8 things CEO Sundar Pichai said at Google for India event

Belgium: Two suspected of plotting terror attacks in Brussels

The two suspects were arrested following searches Sunday and Monday in the Brussels area, the Liege region and Flemish Brabant.

Two people have been arrested in Belgium on suspicion of planning attacks in Brussels during the holidays, the federal prosecutor’s office said Tuesday.

The investigation revealed “the threat of serious attacks that would target several emblematic places in Brussels and be committed during the end-of-year holidays,” the prosecutor’s office said.

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The two suspects were arrested following searches Sunday and Monday in the Brussels area, the Liege region and Flemish Brabant, the office said. The announcement did not say whether the suspects were male or female.

One was charged with acting as the leader and recruiter of a terrorist group planning to commit terrorist offenses, the other with participating in a terrorist group’s activities as a principal actor or co-actor, the prosecutor’s office said. During the searches, military-type training uniforms, propaganda materials from the Islamic State group and computer material were seized and are being examined. However, no weapons or explosives were found, the prosecutor’s office said. Six people were taken in for questioning, but four were released, the office said. The prosecutor’s office said no additional details would be made public, but that the probe was not connected to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, in which numerous suspects, including presumed ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud and fugitive Salah Abdeslam, had connections to Belgium. On Nov. 21, after the Paris attacks that killed 130 and injured hundreds, the terrorist alert level for all of the Belgian capital was temporarily raised to its maximum level.

110 journalists killed in 2015, most in ‘peaceful’ countries

A total of 110 journalists were killed around the world in 2015, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said today, warning that more were being deliberately targeted for their work in supposedly peaceful countries. Sixty-seven journalists were killed in the line of duty this year, and another 43 died in circumstances that were unclear, the watchdog group said in its annual roundup.

Another 27 non-professional “citizen-journalists” and seven other media workers were also killed. The high toll is “largely attributable to deliberate violence against journalists” and demonstrates the failure of initiatives to protect media personnel, the report said, calling for the United Nations to take action.

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In particular, the report shed light on the growing role of “non-state groups” — often jihadists such as the Islamic State group — in perpetrating atrocities against journalists. In 2014, it said, two-thirds of the journalists killed were in war zones. But in 2015, it was the exact opposite: “Two-thirds were killed in countries ‘at peace’.”

“The creation of a specific mechanism for enforcing international law on the protection of journalists is absolutely essential,” RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said. “The 110 journalists killed this year need a response that matches the emergency. A special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for the safety of journalists must be appointed without delay.”

The 67 deaths bring to 787 the total number of journalists who were murdered, knowingly targeted or killed in the course of their work since 2005, the Paris-based organisation said. In 2014, there were 66 such fatalities. War-torn Iraq and Syria were the most dangerous places in the world this year for journalists, with 11 and 10 fatalities respectively, the RSF report found.

Third on the list was France, where eight journalists were killed a jihadist assault in January on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an assault that shocked the world. “Charlie Hebdo’s journalists and employees have been living under close protection ever since. Some of them still have to keep changing their place of residence.”

Those murdered in Syria included Japanese freelance reporter Kenji Goto, whose execution by the Islamic State group was unveiled in a macabre video in January. The RSF report also singled out India, where nine journalists had been murdered since the start of 2015, some of them for reporting on organised crime and its links with politicians and others for covering illegal mining.

India saw five journalists killed in the course of their work and four for uncertain reasons, which is why it ranked below France where the cause of death was known. “Their deaths confirm India’s position as Asia’s deadliest country for media personnel, ahead of both Pakistan and Afghanistan,” RSF said, urging the Indian government to establish “a national plan for protecting journalists”.

In Bangladesh, four secularist bloggers were killed in acts claimed by local jihadists.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Spotted in Leaked Video

Xiaomi’s upcoming Mi 5 flagship smartphone has been leaked in a bunch of press renders showing various colour variants of the handset. Additionally, the yet-to-be-announced Mi 5 smartphone has surfaced in a video purportedly showing the handset in its full glory.

In the new press renders, the Mi 5 is seen in four different colours including Black, Gold, Pink, and White. As leaked previously, the Mi 5 can be seen featuring a 2.5D curved glass display and 3D glass covering the back panel. The slim oval-shaped home button is also seen in the new press renders and has been said to double up as the fingerprint sensor, which is claimed to be the smallest and faster sensor in the market. The bunch of leaked press renders claimed to be of the Xiaomi Mi 5 comes courtesy a user on Weibo, which is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

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A separate video leak claimed to show the Mi 5 smartphone has also surfaced on the Internet. The video posted on Weibo shows the handset’s front panel in its full glory. In the 27-seconds video, the Mi 5 can be seen placed on a wooden dock and a user is seen briefly browsing the handset’s interface.

Based on previous leaks, the Mi 5 features a 5.2-inch display with either full-HD or QHD resolution and will be powered by a Snapdragon 820 SoC. The handset is said to come in two RAM and storage versions – 3GB of RAM with 32GB inbuilt storage, and 4GB of RAM with 64GB storage. On the camera front, the Mi 5 is rumoured to pack a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 13-megapixel front-facing camera. It is also supposed to be backed by a 3600mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 tech. The handset is said to run MIUI 7 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

For pricing, the 32GB inbuilt storage and 3GB RAM version has been said to be priced at CNY 1,999 (roughly Rs. 20,300), the 64GB inbuilt storage and 4GB RAM priced at CNY 2,299 (roughly Rs. 23,400). An earlier report claimed that Xiaomi may not launch its Mi 5 until April 2016.

Asus ZenFone Go 4.5 Dual-SIM Android Smartphone at Rs. 5,299

With an aim to tap the affordable smartphone market in the country, Asus on Monday launched the Asus ZenFone Go 4.5 in India. The Asus ZenFone Go 4.5 (ZC451TG) is priced at Rs. 5,299 and is exclusively available for purchase from Flipkart starting Monday.

The ‘lite’ variant to the Asus ZenFone Go which was launched in September this year, the Zenfone Go 4.5 sports a 4.5-inch FWVGA (480×854 pixels) display. It is powered by MediaTek’s MT6580M quad-core SoC clocked at 1.3GHz and 1GB of LPDDR3 RAM.

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The Asus ZenFone Go 4.5 comes with 8GB of inbuilt storage which can be expanded via microSD card (up to 64GB). Users also get 100GB of free Google Drive storage, valid for two years. This excludes 5GB of free Asus Web Storage with lifetime validity.

Other features of the Asus ZenFone Go 4.5 includes a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 0.3-megapixel (VGA) sensor placed upfront. The dual-SIM supports 3G, Wi-Fi, and other standard connectivity features. The Asus ZenFone Go 4.5 runs Android 5.1 with Zen UI 2.0 and houses 1600mAh battery.

The Asus ZenFone Go 4.5 comes in Black colour option, and Flipkart is offering some exchange offers as well, which our readers might find interesting.

The Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer continues to keep a balance between its high-end and low-end smartphone offerings, ensuring to target both the ends of the market. Earlier this year launched the Asus ZenFone C in India at a price point of Rs. 5,999.

Announcing the availability for ZenFone Go 4.5, Peter Chang, Regional Head – South Asia & Country Manager – System Business Group – ASUS India, said, “ZenFone Go wraps up an extremely successful year for us in India. We are elated to see the response that we received through the year for our ZenFone range of smartphones and are sure that our offering for the budget segment packed with features at an affordable price, will be appreciated by our users as well.”

Oppo A35 Hits Certification Site, Tipping Design and its Specifications

Oppo appears set to soon launch a new smartphone dubbed Oppo A35, as the device has been listed on Tenaa, a Chinese telecommunications certification authority. The smartphone listing shows the handset from all sides, and also enumerates its specifications.

The Oppo A35 as per the Tenaa listing is seen sporting a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) resolution display with pixel density of 294ppi. The Android 5.1.1 Lollipop-based smartphone packs an octa-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz, clubbed with 2GB RAM. Also suggested is that the handset will house 32GB inbuilt storage, which can be expanded via microSD card (up to 128GB).

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A 13-megapixel rear camera along with an 8-megapxiel front-facing camera are also listed. The Oppo A35 according to the listing measures 143.5×71.0x7.25 and weighs 133 grams. It supports 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, and Micro-USB connectivity as well.

As for the design, the A35 looks look similar to the Oppo A53, which was launched earlier this month. The device’s back panel has a camera placed on top-left corner with LED-flash below it, along with a speaker grille at the bottom. On the front side, the handset can be seen with three capacitive buttons below the display for moving one window back, accessing home screen, and the multi-window screen.

Oppo recently launched a high-end variant of the Oppo R7 Plus phablet in China. The Oppo R7 Plus high-end variant shares almost the same specifications with that of the R7 Plus. The high-end variant however, features 4GB RAM along with 64GB inbuilt storage as compared to the 3GB RAM and the 32GB inbuilt storage found on the R7 Plus.

Free Basics vs Free Internet:- Your Guide to the Raging Net Neutrality Debate

Free Basics, Facebook’s non-profit initiative that aims to bring Internet connectivity to the underprivileged in developing regions, has run into trouble in India. Under Free Basics, Facebook is offering a range of services for free to thousands of users, but advocates and enthusiasts in the country are strongly encouraging users to discard Facebook’s initiative. Why? ‘Network neutrality’ or ‘net neutrality’ is the reason – a concept that says a public network should treat all content, sites, and platforms equally.

It is around these questions that the net neutrality debate is raging across India and the world. In this article, we guide you through what net neutrality is, as well as the raging debate in India, while also pinpointing the developments that have taken place in this space.

But what is net neutrality?
The idea behind net neutrality is simple – treat all sites equally to give everyone a fair chance at growth, and reject the idea of monopolies. The term net neutrality was first coined by lawyer and scholar Tim Wu in 2003 in an academic paper also titled ‘Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination,’ which said that Internet service providers must treat all traffic on their networks equally.

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So, what is Facebook’s Free Basics?
First of all, it wasn’t called Free Basics until September 2015. Formerly, it was known as Internet.org. The initiative is meant to provide free access to the Internet to the underprivileged in developing nations. Facebook has launched the initiative in 15 nations thus far, including India, where it debuted Internet.org in February this year in partnership with RCom, the fourth largest carrier in the country.

What’s the problem with Free Basics?
The bone that net neutrality activists have to pick with Free Basics is that it is a zero-rating platform, in that it provides free access to a limited number of services, but not to all. That it’s not bringing unlimited access to the Internet to people, but access to a very small subset of the Internet. In India, for instance, the company with RCom was to offer access to 38 websites and services. These services included some news providers, some entertainment websites, and some infotainment websites, but each of their competitors was left out in the cold, with users having to continue to pay to access them. Reliance users across the country can access these pre-selected services for free, through this has now been put on hold following a directive issued by Trai.

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But as we’ve pointed out before, Free Basics users can’t access websites and services that aren’t currently approved by Facebook. This approach defeats the basic fabric of net neutrality – Facebook defends itself on this front however, saying any websites and services can apply to be a part of Free Basics, while any telecom operator can offer it to their subscribers. It has also maintained that joining up is free, and that current partners have not paid it to be part of the Free Basics platform. This doesn’t answer the question of why the platform has the concept of approval and rejection at all.

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh Will Reunite, Says BJP's Ram Madhav

NEW DELHI:  India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will reunite one day to create “Akhand Bharat” or an ‘Undivided India’, BJP’s National General Secretary Ram Madhav has said.

In an interview to international news network Al Jazeera, the former spokesperson and national executive member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), said that this can happen “without war, through popular consent”.

“The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh still believes that one day these parts, which have for historical reasons separated only 60 years ago, will again, through popular goodwill, come together and Akhand Bharat will be created,” Mr Madhav said.

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Mr Madhav further added that he holds on to that view as a member of the RSS – the ideological mentor of the BJP.

“That does not mean we wage war on any country, [or that] we annex any country. Without war, through popular consent, it can happen,” he clarified.

Also responding to a statement made earlier this year, in which he said India was “a Hindu country”, Mr Madhav explained, “It’s a land where a particular way of life, a particular culture or civilisation, is practised.”

“We call it Hindu – do you have any objection? India has one culture. We are one culture, one people, one nation,” he said.

The Congress criticised the remarks calling them “just propaganda”. “The RSS or the BJP have been misleading people of the country just to divert the attention from their abject failure. They are engaging in propaganda like an event management company,” Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said.

Kejriwal Government Scraps More Than 900 Auto Permits After Alleged Scam

NEW DELHI:  Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting of cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats early on Saturday morning and decided to scrap nearly 1000 autorickshaw permits in Delhi after alleged irregularities in their allotment. The Delhi government also suspended three officials of the transport department, including a senior bureaucrat, in the matter and decided not to issue any more permits for the time being.

The officials – identified as S Roy Biswas, Deputy Commissioner, Manish Puri, Inspector, and Anil Yadav, a clerk — were placed under suspension immediately after the high-level meeting, at 8 am, news agency Press Trust of India reported.

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Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has said the matter would be handed over to the CBI. “The matter would be handed over to the CBI. This government cannot tolerate corruption at any level,” he tweeted. The alleged irregularities have the BJP demanding Transport Minister Gopal Rai’s resignation. The Party’s Delhi unit will hold a protest outside the Delhi Secretariat on Monday.

Some autorickshaw drivers had reportedly sent text messages to Mr Kejriwal last evening after he made a call to Mr Rai. Officials said the transport minister had already made preliminary enquiries in the matter and found out two types of irregularities – the permits or Letters of Intent were issued on a pick and choose basis against the rules and that these were being handed over to intermediaries or unauthorised persons instead of the applicants.

Mr Rai has said he had ordered an inquiry immediately after he received complaints on December 23. The alleged irregularities have surfaced as the government in Delhi prepares to launch the odd-even formula for cars from January 1 and augment public transport to fill in for the cars taken off the capital’s roads. The transport department is the nodal agency for implementing the grand plan. The government has decided to put the process of issuing permits on hold.

Upending daily rhythm triggers fat cell growth

New research may help explain why chronic stress, sleep deprivation and other disruptions in the body’s daily rhythms are linked to obesity.

Chronic exposure to stress hormones stimulates growth of fat cells, Mary Teruel of Stanford University reported December 16 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. Normally, stress hormones, such as cortisol, are released during waking hours in regular bursts that follow daily, or circadian, rhythms. Those regular pulses don’t cause fat growth, Teruel and colleagues discovered. But extended periods of exposure to the hormones, caused by such things as too little sleep, break up that rhythm and lead to more fat cells.

Even though only about 10 percent of fat cells are replaced each year, the body maintains a pool of prefat cells that are poised to turn into fat. “If they all differentiated at once, you’d be drowning in fat,” Teruel said.

Previous studies have shown that a protein called PPAR-gamma controls the development of fat cells and that stress hormones turn on production of PPAR-gamma. Teruel’s team discovered that prefat cells with levels of PPAR-gamma below a certain threshold don’t transform into fat in laboratory tests. Steady hormone exposure eventually allowed the precursor cells to build up enough PPAR-gamma to cross the threshold into fat making. But in cells given the same total amount of stress hormone in short pulses, PPAR-gamma levels rose and fell.

The stress hormone works like pushing on a car’s accelerator. Steadily increasing pressure eventually puts the car over the speed limit, while pulses effectively take the foot off the gas pedal, causing periodic slowdowns that fall short of the fat-making threshold. Pulses shorter than 12 hours didn’t make extra fat, while longer pulses, such as those that may be caused by sleep deprivation, overeating or other disruptions in circadian rhythms, increased the number of precursor cells that became fat cells.