Sep 272017

The fast growing population of elderly people in the country is increasing the incidence of Alzheimer’s alarmingly with around two million Pakistanis suffer from the preventable condition and their numbers are mounting, warned health experts on Tuesday.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior changes and the disease is rapidly spreading globally. Every three seconds a person falls prey to it.

Experts said at a press briefing held at a hotel in connection with the World Alzheimer’s Day that the cost to combat the disease globally had surpassed $818 billion.

They said seven per cent of people aging 65 or more were affected by Alzheimer’s while up to 15 per cent of those aged 75 or more were likely to be affected by it.

“If the disease is not timely treated, it becomes incurable,” Prof Muhammad Wasay, president, Neurology Awareness and Research Foundation [NARF], warned.

He shared an estimate agreed upon by the experts globally that by 2050 people affected with the disease would be over 50m worldwide and would upset unlimited numbers of families.

“Dementia is also called ancestral disease and is one of the six reasons of deaths.”

He said mostly the disease was linked with aging and contrary to the perception it could be prevented through remedial measures.

“The average age in Pakistan is increasing, thus increasing the risk of the diseases linked with aging. Alzheimer’s is much common among the people who are 65 or older,” he said.

He added though no treatment of Alzheimer’s was available but its incidence could be controlled through remedial measures.

Experts said due to lack of awareness people did not understand its symptoms and associate it with the old age. Vitamin B-12 deficiency causes memory loss.

Prof Ejaz Vohara called for creating awareness vis-à-vis the ailment and its consequences. “Lack of physical and mental activities is among a few major reasons leading to this disease.”

He said looking after patients with care was must for slowing down effect of the ailment among people suffering. That could also reduce its risk by almost 35pc.

Dr Yahya Amir of Lyari General Hospital said awareness among the general physicians about Alzheimer’s was crucial as they treated such patients in early stages.

Prof Arif Herekar stressed the need for awareness among general public and doctors alike given most doctors were still not adequately aware about the disease and could improve diagnosis and treatment if they were better informed.

 Posted by at 11:22 am
Sep 182017

By Brian Fung

Imagine you’ve been detained at customs, waiting to cross the border. Or maybe you’ve been pulled over for a traffic violation. An officer waves your cell phone at you.

“Look at this. Is this yours?” he asks.

Before you can respond, a tiny infrared sensor in the phone has scanned your face. Matching those readings against the copy of your face that is stored in its archive, the phone concludes that its owner is trying to unlock it. The device lowers its defenses, surrendering its contents in moments to the law enforcement officer holding your phone.

Without you saying a word, he has gotten everything he wanted.

That’s the nightmare scenario that some privacy and security experts are raising after Apple on Tuesday unveiled its new iPhone X (pronounced iPhone’”10’), a device with powerful facial-recognition features. The technology, Apple said, replaces the home button and fingerprint reader that was so revolutionary just a few years ago with a new authentication system known as Face ID.

For all intents and purposes, Face ID works just like its predecessor, Touch ID. The only difference is that instead of scanning your fingerprint, the iPhone X scans your face. It’s an incredibly convenient feature, one that could raise security across the board by helping to curb the use of weak pass codes such as ‘121212.’

But the introduction of Face ID also instantly led to questions among civil liberties experts, who say the technology poses the risk of abuse.

“You have to work pretty hard to get me to put my fingerprint on a reader,” said Chris Calabrese, vice president for policy at the Centre for Democracy and Technology. “You have to work less hard to put a phone in front of somebody’s face.”

Can the police really force you to unlock your phone with just your face?

“There is some question whether or not they could get you to scan your face or your fingerprint,” said Susan Hennessey, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a managing editor of Lawfare, a leading national security blog. “Ultimately, this is the next development in the already existing, open legal question.”

The law is ambiguous — and the uncertainty is likely to persist until a court case establishes clearer rules, analysts say.

While you can’t legally be compelled to give up your pass code, some analysts say, courts have ruled that law enforcement can compel you to give up your fingerprint under certain conditions. Under a standard known as ‘reasonable suspicion,’ you can be required to provide your fingerprint. Could the same standard be applied to your facial data? That’s what is unclear.

That said, Americans enjoy one additional layer of legal protection. Even if a police officer uses your biometric information to unlock a phone, he or she must still obtain a search warrant to search the phone.

Given how confusing the law can be on these issues, can’t there be some kind of technological solution?

A partial one may be in the works. The new version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 11, is said to contain a failsafe that will not only disable Touch ID, but also potentially Face ID. By pressing the power button five times in quick succession, an iPhone will stop accepting biometric data as an unlocking mechanism and require a pass code, according to the researcher who discovered the feature in a beta version of iOS 11.

It is not clear how long the failsafe lasts before things revert to the regular mode. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

“I’m told the TouchID disable already works for FaceID (it doesn’t require the home button, you just tap the side/power button 5x). Nice.

  • Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 12, 2017”

The failsafe could be the difference between protecting a user’s sensitive data and having his or her entire digital life on display. But it won’t work for everyone. In the heat of the moment, some may forget how to engage the failsafe. Some may not even know that such an option exists. Or they may not have the opportunity to turn it on before their device gets confiscated.

“Right, but that’s still fail-deadly. If they get it out of your hands before you mash the button, it’s all over.

  • tormaid (@tormaid) September 12, 2017”

“Responsible companies need to ask themselves, ‘Where do we stop? Have we thought through the implications?’” said Katharina Kopp, director of policy for the Centre for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group.

Courtesy: The Washington Post

 Posted by at 11:30 am
Sep 162017

Following is historical chart of interbank exchange rates starting from June-1999. Open market rates slightly differ from interbank rates.


Sep 152017


FRANKFURT: BMW is reviewing the necessity of car keys, Ian Robertson, the company´s board member responsible for sales told Reuters.

The fact that customers now all carry a smartphone and the availability of a BMW App which allows customers to unlock their vehicle has made old fashioned keys less relevant.

“Honestly, how many people really need it,” Robertson said in an interview at the Frankfurt car show, explaining that customers no longer had to put the key in the ignition to make the car start.

“They never take it out of their pocket, so why do I need to carry it around?” Robertson said, adding that the company was looking at getting rid of keys altogether.

“We are looking at whether it is feasible, and whether we can do it. Whether we do it right now or at some point in the future remains to be seen,” Robertson said.

 Posted by at 8:53 pm
Sep 152017


Don’t forget to sip the famous black tea whenever you go to Darjeeling; a town in India’s West Bengal state in the Himalayan foothills. Darjeeling used to be a summer resort for the British Raj elite before partition. This paradise on the earth is a beautiful combination of varied cultures comprising of Nepali, Lepchas, Bhutia, Tibetans, and other mainland Indian ethno-linguistic groups. Darjeeling, alongside its neighbouring town of Kalimpong was the centre of the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s. Gorkhaland is a proposed statehood demand from the Indian state of West Bengal. The formal demand for a separate administrative unit in Darjeeling came to the surface first time in 1907 when the Hillmen’s Association of Darjeeling submitted a memorandum to Minto-Morley Reforms demanding an independent administrative unit. Once again this demand was repeated with a new zeal and zest in 1980s by Subhash Ghisingh. He demanded for the creation of a state called Gorkhaland within India to be carved out of the hills of Darjeeling and areas of Dooars and Siliguri terai adjacent to Darjeeling. Unfortunately violence added to this peaceful demand and as a result of agitation over 1200 people lost their lives. In 2007 a new political party called the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha commonly known as GJM once again raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. That movement is still alive. For the last 90 days Darjeeling is once again in a state of public agitation. This latest spell of protests for a separate state of Gorkhaland was triggered by the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools across West Bengal. There is complete strike in the area and a severe scarcity of food and medicines. Schools and colleges have been shut since the second week of June and normal life has come to a grinding halt. People are raising slogans against the indifferent attitude of the Modi government and have no intention of putting any end to this strike. Instead of resolving the issue and listening to the demand for the Gorkhaland, New Delhi is trying all possible to disconnect Darjeeling from rest of the world by suspending the internet services. Moreover the Darjeeling police have started searching for the people who are more active and vibrant in this movement. On 28 Aug 17, Darjeeling Police arrested three active supporters of Gorkhaland movement on charges of involvement in arson and violence that took place in the hills two months back in June; according to the latest details, no one knows where those three arrested people are now. It is being feared that on the direction of the Modi government, they have been murdered in police custody. Another interesting fact is that New Delhi is also trying to weaken this movement by creating differences and misunderstanding in the ranks of Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee but no success has yet been achieved in this context. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and all other political parties are not ready to surrender before the adamant behaviour of the Delhi Sarkar. They say they will not call off the strike only unless New Delhi makes announcement of an independent Gorkha state. On the other hand, the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta has pledged that a division of the Darjeeling Hills from Bengal would be resisted by blood. Even the center in New Delhi is not ready to create a Gorkha state despite the fact that GJM has been an ally of BJP. In short things are heading towards a point of no return in Darjeeling. It seems that the protesters behind the Gorkhaland Movement are braver and stronger than those behind the Khalistan Movement and they certainly have more courage than the Sikh community. It is a very bitter reality that on one hand Modi Sarkar is patronizing various separatist movements in Pakistan and China by supporting the so-called sub-nationalists but on the other hand various separatist movements in different parts of India are posing serious threat to Indian federation. Cruel caste system, the menace of Hindu extremism and social injustice are few of the so many problems which are pushing the whole of Indian society to a hell of eternal damnation.


 Posted by at 7:37 pm
Sep 152017

Setting an example and making history at the same time, Pakistan’s Kanza Azeemi has achieved the highest honour (the Saïd Prize) as an MBA student at the University of Oxford.

Kanza Azeemi, completed her Masters in Business Administration from Said Business School and was a member of St. Hugh’s College at the University of Oxford, UK. She achieved this position among a class of 327 students from 58 countries.

Dean of Saïd Business School, Peter Tufano announced Kanza’s award in a prestigious end-of-course ceremony, held at the centuries-old Sheldonian Theatre designed by Christopher Wren in the 1600s. The Saïd Prize is awarded to one MBA student for outstanding academic excellence and contribution to the MBA program and wider Oxford community.

While presenting the award, the Dean acclaimed Kanza’s position on the Dean’s Honour List and the events she organised as the elected Co- Chair of the Women’s Leadership Oxford Business Network, which was one of the most active OBNs of the year, working to promote females in leadership positions and striving for gender equality.

Her efforts to organize International Women’s Day events that brought inspirational women from her MBA class in to the spotlight were specifically praised and acknowledged.

Kanza graduated from the Lahore University of Management Sciences with a major in Economics (distinction) in 2013. She has been actively involved in women’s empowerment and social impact initiatives since then. – APP

 Posted by at 1:23 pm
Sep 122017

Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X will be launched by the technology giant in one of its biggest events ever. Apple’s September event will go live at 10.30 pm IST on the Apple website itself and for fans of the company this will be a big one. The iPhone X as it is now being called marks 10 years since the device first launched in January 2007, when Steve Jobs unveiled the touchscreen device. The launch itself is taking place in the Steve Jobs Theater in the new Apple Campus, which is designed like a giant spaceship.

Apple will likely unveil three iPhones. According to leaked source code, the names will be iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8-Plus, though we’ll have to wait till Apple officially confirms the same. So what will the new iPhones offer? Here’s a detailed look.

Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Specifications, Price

Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 will see some minor upgrades compared to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus series. Now in the past, the expectation was these will be called iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, but that has changed thanks to the new set of leaks. The aluminium chassis design we’ve seen on the iPhone 7 series will continue with the iPhone 8.

Apple will upgrade the processor from the A10 chip to the A11 in the new iPhones and we could see these start at 64GB instead of 32GB. However, the rear camera will likely remain at 12MP on both, though the Plus series will continue to come with the dual rear camera.

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus won’t be getting an OLED, bezel-less display either unlike the special edition iPhone. Apple will stick with the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch LCD display on these smartphones. The new iPhones will run iOS 11 at launch, and the price could at par with what we’ve seen in the past.

Apple iPhone X Price, Specifications

Apple iPhone X or iPhone Special Edition is the big one. This will have a 5.8-inch bezel-less OLED display, and will actually be more compact than the iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 8 Plus in terms of size. It will also have a glass and steel design, with the front and back being all glass held together by a steel frame. The device is similar to what the iPhone 4, 4s used to have in terms of design. There’s also going to be a face recognition scanner on the front for unlocking the phone.

What will be gone from the iPhone X is the Touch ID and physical home button on the front, according to leaked images and reports. Touch ID under the display did not prove to be successful for Apple and this particular technology might take some time to appear on phones.

It will come in Black, Silver, Blush Gold and Gold colours, though the front panel is expected to be entirely in black. However, reports from analysts and US media indicate the iPhone X will be in short supply after the launch.

Apple iPhone X will start at 64GB storage with 256GB and 512GB versions also expected. The pricing though could $1000 plus for this special iPhone going up all the way to $1300, which would make this the most expensive one till now. What price Apple picks for the iPhone X in India will be closely watched.

Apple iOS 11

Apple iOS 11 will be powering these new iPhones and it brings some key design changes. The control centre has been re-designed with a single page spread and is more customizable. The taller design also makes it seem this has been made keeping in mind the iPhone X and its taller display.

iOS 11 will also see the App Store undergoing a big change with a new look. The new OS also puts focus on Augmented Reality with Apple making the ARKit available to developers. Overall iOS 11 will bring more features for iPad users. Interestingly new features like Face ID, Animojis etc have also been leaked for the upcoming iPhone.


Sep 122017

Pakistan has installed capacity of 6,902 megawatts of hydroelectric power, which meets one-third of the country’s electricity needs.

However, there is a potential of more than 50,000MW. Hydroelectric power development has suffered due to prolonged Kalabagh Dam controversy on which national consensus could not be developed.

Sindh feared that Punjab would divert water depriving it of its share and that it required extra water to flow down Kotri to push the encroachment of sea into their land. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) feared that Nowshera would be inundated.

Dams are not a zero-sum game. Dams increase water supplies and are an insurance against drought. Every country that has a river, builds a dam.

Total river flows are to the tune of 179 km3 in Pakistan against consumption of 126 km3, leaving an excess of 38 km3 that goes into the sea. It has been established now that only 11 km3 is required for excess flow into the sea to prevent sea intrusion. It means excess water to the tune of 27 km3 is available to build dams.

The capacity of Kalabagh Dam is only 7.5 km3. So practically, four such dams can be built while having enough water to satisfy Sindh’s criteria and objections. Fortunately, there is no controversy over Bhasha Dam and Kalabagh Dam has to be postponed until there is water and food crisis?

It is the cheapest dam to build as it is close to plains and would have cost less than half of Bhasha Dam. It would have irrigated a million acres in Punjab and a million acres barren land in Sindh. A lot of time has been wasted in controversy with no final output.

Mangla Dam’s height has been raised to increase its storage capacity. Now Mangla is the largest storage dam of Pakistan in place of Tarbela whose storage capacity has gone down due to siltation.

Projects being implemented

Only lately some interest has been revived and many projects have been prepared for implementation. The World Bank has agreed to finance Dasu Dam – a 4,400MW project to be built in two stages of 2,200MW each. Bids are expected to be invited by 2018.

Tarbela Dam’s power generation capacity is being upgraded through two projects – Tarbela IV and Tarbela V with capacity of 1,410MW and 1,300MW respectively.

Tarbela IV is at advanced stage of construction and may be completed and commissioned in 2018. Tarbela V financing has been approved and is at initial stages.

Extension projects do not require much time to complete as compared to the traditional hydroelectric power projects.

Finally, Sukhi Kinari with installed capacity of 900MW has entered into the implementation phase due to being taken under CPEC. It is perhaps the first or second private sector hydroelectric power project.

Bhasha Dam of 4,500MW capacity is the most important project. It is a multi-purpose dam that will produce electricity as well as store water. There is no controversy surrounding it as there would be no canals and thus no water diversion. Neither is there any issue of a city being inundated.

Being free of internal issues, it is mired in external issues as it is situated in what India calls a disputed territory. International financial institutions have asked Pakistan to get NOC from India which is obviously quite unacceptable to Pakistan.

USAID has shown interest, but to the extent of scrutinising the design, which should not have been opposed, but a hue and cry was created by some circles and demands were made not to hand over the documents to USAID.

Any technical input should be welcome, while we are free to do what we can, if we have the money.

The government has, however, continued with the preparatory operations such as land acquisition. More than Rs100 billion has been spent in the process making many locals quite rich.

The project is ready for construction. Wapda has prepared a proposal for self and local financing arrangement according to which the project would have two stages.

Storage components would be built under public sector financing involving Wapda’s own income stream, PSDP funding and local bank borrowing. In the second stage, the power component would be implemented under the IPP regime.

The proposal is quite reasonable and if nothing happens, we may have to go along these lines.

Talks with China

There is a parallel stream of negotiations with the Chinese who have reportedly presented a very grand and ambitious plan of owning and operating the whole Indus cascade. It is a difficult issue and may involve a bitter debate in the political arena and thus may be time consuming.

It may be desirable to separate Bhasha Dam from the grand scheme for the time being and start its implementation with Chinese cooperation. They would be the most probable builders and EPC contractors in any case.

The grand scheme can be discussed and negotiated and if consensus reached, Bhasha can be retrospectively included. Pakistan should not delay Bhasha and should start on its own, as is the case of Ethiopia which has built a similar project in similar circumstances from its own meagre financial resources.

Problems and difficulties

First of all, all hydroelectric power plants do not have a water storage component. Except for a few, like Tarbela, Mangla, Bhasha and Kalabagh, no other projects would provide any significant water storage at all.

Apart from seasonal variations in water/electricity supply, there are long-term variations as well. Brazil depends on hydroelectric power to the extent of 64-80% and it has severe problems of power supply due to drought conditions recently. Brazil is now taking steps towards access to more non-hydro sources.

Due to climate change reasons, it has been projected that in Pakistan there would be large variations in precipitation and water supply, resulting either in extraordinary floods or drought conditions.

Having a large component of power supplies coming from hydro would compound our difficulties – no water and no power. Thus, there is an upper limit on the ratio of hydroelectric power in the total energy mix.

A large construction period, environmental issues and displacement of people have been the other reasons discouraging the increase in hydroelectric power. The advent of solar and wind power at 4-5 cents has created an altogether new situation in power markets. Large capacity projects requiring expensive transmission facilities would increasingly face tough competition from solar power.

One or two of the major fallacies based on which popular support for hydroelectric power has been built is that it is cheap and brings water also.

It is true that until recently, hydroelectric power tariff was Rs1 per unit. Now, it is Rs3.50 per unit, partly as a result of increase in royalty payments to K-P. It is still an attractive price compared to Rs5-10 per unit of fossil-based power tariff.

However, all recent projects are to produce expensive hydroelectric power. K-P government is developing expensive projects costing in excess of $2.5 million per megawatt, resulting in a tariff of around Rs10 per unit, approaching oil-based electricity.

Neelum-Jhelum has the same situation, although it has unique problems. There are issues of high re-lending charges which will result in a tariff of Rs14 per unit. In any case, the tariff cannot fall below Rs10 per unit, whatever financial restructuring is done.

In China and Canada, hydroelectric power is priced at 4 cents, which is its average price internationally. In India, capital expenditure on hydroelectric power is not so high. On the average, it is $1.5 million per megawatt, resulting in a tariff of about 5 cents per kWh, which appears to be quite reasonable.

There is something terribly wrong or deficient in our hydroelectric power sector – $2.5 million per megawatt vs $1.5 million elsewhere and a tariff of 8-10 cents plus vs 5-6 cents elsewhere.

There is a difference of more than twice. May be there are design and engineering issues, or the monopoly of contractors coming from only one country, perhaps due to law and order situation.

As there is a long gestation period, there might be issues of escalation formulae which are normally understood with difficulty and the multi-currency issues as well. There could be contract management issues as well.

As billions are involved, it may be worthwhile spending some money to investigate the issue through credible international advice and a third-party input.

The writer has been until recently member energy of the Planning Commission

Article by SYED AKHTER ALI, published in Daily Times on September 5th, 2017

 Posted by at 10:25 am