Authors Posts by Sabreen Atiq

Sabreen Atiq

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The author is a marketer who is currently exploring the world of Digital Marketing. She likes to write about important issues which people don’t like addressing.

Amazon Puts Amazon Go on Hold

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At the end of last year, Amazon had announced that it would be opening it’s “no lines, no check out” store Amazon Go in early 2017. Now six months into the year, Amazon Go is still not open.

You can check it out if you know someone who works there, said a former Amazon Go employee last week. The store is not fully opened but having the right connections can help you get in.

Amazon has promised a shopping experience like no other as it released glimpses of how the store would operate. In its advert, people are seen walking into the grocery store by tapping in using an app on their phones, they proceed to shop and then walk right out – just like that. No lines, no checkout. The store would have been perfect for the fast-paced lives of today’s consumers and would have revolutionized the shopping forever. However, we’re half way through the year and the store is yet to open.

The opening is being stalled due to glitches in the store’s operations and is being seen as an embarrassing misstep by the tech giant. Amazon’s been riding high on the buzz it created for its high-profile project which consequently led to an increase in its stock prices. Amazon also scored a $13.7 billion deal to acquire Whole Foods. The delay is also causing many to question whether the store will open at all and if a checkout-free convenience store is even a possibility.

However, the delay comes as a relief to workers in the retail stores as they have seen who’ve lost their jobs as retail stores closed at record numbers this year. Many feared that Amazon Go technology may make their jobs obsolete. Amazon had addressed these concerns saying that their convenience stores will require the same amount of workers as regular stores but the tasks will be different.

The rumors suggest that the software being used in the Amazon Go store doesn’t seem to facilitate more than 20 people at a time which is why the store has not been opened to the public. Amazon’s employs have been using it though. Despite the hiccups, the Amazon Go team is still pushing forward. The concept is not being shelved. A former employee at Amazon said that experimentation isn’t new for the company; if Amazon finds that the concept is not offering consumers a valuable experience, the store will be shut down.

Stephen Hawking Says Trump Could Push the Earth over the Edge

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In an Interview with the BBC, the renowned physician expressed his concerns over Trump’s policies on climate change, saying that his negligence can turn Earth into Venus.

In the BBC commentary, Hawking painted a grim scenario of the possible consequences of Trump’s approach towards global warming.

He described a scene where you’d walk out to witness the streets melting, which is baffling because it will be raining. You’ll quickly discover that it isn’t regular rain, it’s the sulfuric acid that is causing your umbrella to melt too. All of this destruction because the leader of the Free World doesn’t understand global warming and the grueling effects of climate change.

Hawking told the BBC that we’re fast approaching the tipping point – the point where global warming cannot be reversed; pushing the Earth into conditions similar to those of Venus. According to Hawking, we can expect unbearable temperatures as high as 250 degrees with sulfuric acid rain.

Hawking focused on Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate accord and his ridiculous belief that the global warming is something that was created by the Chinese for material gain.

By choosing to ignore climate change despite the hordes of evidence that’s been collected over the last decade and opting out of the Paris Climate accord, Trump is enabling preventable damages to the planet that will endanger the environment for us and our children.

Hawking spoke to the BBC as part of his 75th anniversary but his concern for the planet left with him little to celebrate. Other than the worrying for the planet, he also is apprehensive about aliens hating us. He believes that the way the Earth is deteriorating, humans may have to leave the planet in about a 100 years. He’s always been nervous about Trump being the president and shocked with the success that he’s had in politics.

He painted a bleak picture of what he expects of us in the future, saying “I fear evolution has inbuilt greed and aggression to the human genome,” he said. “There is no sign of conflict lessening, and the development of militarized technology and weapons of mass destruction could make that disastrous.”

With the way Trump has behaved on Twitter over the past week, the resolving of conflicts won’t happen anytime soon if not ever. At the moment the President is preoccupied with his feud with the media.

Saudi Arabia Linked to Extremism in the UK Claim Reports

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A new report that surfaced claims that Saud Arabia is the primary source of promoting Islamist extremism in the UK.

The report was published in the Henry Jackson Society, a right-wing British think-tank stated that there was a clear link between Islamic extremism in the UK and Saudi Arabia. According to the reports, Saudi Arabia serves the Muslim community in the UK by providing funds, sending preachers with extremist tendencies along with Jihadist groups that encourage violence.

The think tank called for further inquiry into the involvement of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations in pushing extremist agendas in the UK.

The UK’s Saudi Arabia embassy denied all allegations saying all claims are “categorically false”.

Ministers in the UK are under pressure to release their own reports regarding the funding of extremism in the country.

In 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron had asked the Home Office to conduct an investigation on the existence and the funding of Jihadist groups within the country. The report has still not been completed.

Critics believe that could be due to the fear of severing ties between the UK and the Gulf countries which have been close allies of the UK. Additionally, they have strong security and economic links with some of these countries, specifically with Saudi Arabia.

Some political analysts believe that the report has in fact been completed yet there appears to be some hesitancy in making it public, possibly because it contains some embarrassing information.

On the report released by the think tank on Wednesday, accusing the Gulf countries and Iran of funding Islamic institutions and mosques that are led by preachers that hold and promote extremist views of Islam.

The report called out Saudi Arabia for leading the extremist agenda who also happens to be the UK’s greatest ally and biggest trading partner in the region.

The report cited examples which implied that individuals and foundations were exporting “an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology”.

For the majority of the cases, the money given to institutions buys foreign influence but there are also some cases which are being wholly funded by Saudi Arabia are run directly from the country.

However, the Saudi embassy in London has denied all allegations saying that they are baseless and aren’t supported by credible evidence. Furthermore, the country pointed out that it itself has been a victim of terrorism from both Al Qaeda and Islamic State. It went on to say that the country does not conquer with the extremist ideology and is determined to weed out extremist groups that are responsible for defaming Islam and spreading terrorism in its name.

The Home Office too said that it was focused on removing extremism from the core but it did not comment on the allegations that were placed on Saudi Arabia and its neighboring Gulf states.

The report comes at a time where Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations are accusing one of their own, Qatar of supporting terrorist groups.

Qatar Gets a 48-hour Extension to Meet Gulf’s Demands

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KSA, along with three other Arab nations, have agreed to extend Qatar’s deadlines by another 48hours or to face further sanctions.

The initial deadline that was given by the Arab states listed 13 demands which Qatar has not yet been able to meet. The 13 demands included the shutdown of the region’s leading news network, Al Jazeera.

Qatar continues to deny claims of funding terrorist groups in Syria. It has given a formal response but the details were not disclosed.

In response to the demands of the Arab states, Qatar has called them a violation of international law.

In addition to the shutdown of Al Jazeera network, the Arab states have also demanded that Qatar closes the Turkish military base in the country and curbs ties with Iran.

On Monday, the emir of Qatar traveled to Kuwait (who has been serving as the mediator between the Gulf nations) to submit a formal letter in the form of a response to the Gulf States’ demands. In a brief statement that was released prior to the delivery of the letter, Qatar condemned the demands, calling them a defilement of international law.

Qatar continued to say that the demands appear to be an attempt to bully the country in ways which have led to wars in the past. Qatar also urged to unite against the unfair and unjustified treatment it is having to endure and for the sake of stability and security of the Middle East.

A few weeks back, Saudi Arabia and it’s close allies, the Egypt, Bahrain and UAE placed unprecedented and sanctions on Qatar, claiming that Qatar had been funding extremists groups – including the Muslim Brotherhood. It also provided a public platform for such groups on its government-funded network, Al Jazeera. Qatar has denied all allegations.

Since the restrictions have been placed, Qatar has been pushed into a downward spiral as the nation relies heavily on imports. In the meantime, Turkey and Iran have stepped in to support Qatar by providing foods and other goods to the country.

UAE has stated that in the case that Qatar refuses to meet the demands, the sanctions will remain in place and Qatar will have to deal with being detested by its neighboring countries.

Donald Trump Tweets a Clip of Wrestling with CNN

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After the fiasco he had created with ‘Morning Joe’ hosts, Trump continues his tirade on Twitter, this time targeting CNN.

The tweet consists of a clip from Trump’s short-lived wrestling career in which he is seen taking down franchise owner Vince McMahon and then proceeding to punch him in the head, except McMahon’s head has been replaced with the CNN logo.

The badly edited video had been uploaded to a pro-Trump forum earlier in the week.

CNN has since responded, accusing Trump of inciting violence against the media.

Ana Navarro, a panelist on ABC morning show and a regular political commentator, who happens to be a Republican said: “It is an incitement to violence. He is going to get somebody killed in the media.”

Donald Trump has been in a long-running feud with most left-wing cable new networks, with CNN getting the brunt of it as he dubbed the network “Fake News” during his campaigning days.

CNN has not backed off as they continue their criticism towards Trump. CNN’s White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta who has taken some direct heat from the President tweeted, “Isn’t pro-wrestling fake?”

CNN’s communication team too tweeted a sarcastic response. They responded with a quote by White House’s press officer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying, “The President in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.”

Trump’s strange tweet came a day after he declared his use of social media “modern-day presidential”.

Just a week earlier Trump attacked MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezezinski, which brought in waves of criticism from the both Republicans and Democrats. Since then the White House has fumbled to defend the president, saying the mainstream media shamelessly attacks the president and that his response was merely a retaliation.

Another Cyber Attack Causes Global Chaos

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Companies worldwide have been struck by a severe ransomware attack.

The virus emerged in Ukraine as Ukrainian firms which consisted of the country’s state power company and the Kiev airport were among the first to report of the attack.

The virus causes the user’s computer to freeze and then demands an untraceable ransom in the form of Bitcoins.

Even the Chernobyl nuclear plants were impacted as they were forced to monitor the radiation levels manually because the virus had caused its Windows-based sensors to switch off.

The British-based advertising agency WPP also claims to have been affected by the virus.

Security forces across the world are collaborating to bring the culprits to justice. The US National Security Council has confirmed that government agencies were actively investigating the attacks, saying that the US was “determined to hold those responsible accountable”.

Victims have been advised not to pay the ransom firstly because there is no guarantee that the affected files will be restored and secondly it may encourage others to follow suit and spread the virus even further.

According to the Russian Kaspersky Lab, there have been over 2000 attacks so far. Ukraine, Russia, and Poland are among those that are most impacted by the ransom-ware.

The severity of the attack has even gotten Interpol involved. Interpol has stated that it is monitoring the attacks very closely and is collaborating with other member countries.

Tech experts claim that the ransomware is attempting to cash on the same vulnerabilities that were exposed by the WannaCry Attack last month.

Experts also say that the malware resembles the virus Petya which was used in cyber-attacks last year. The Kaspersky Lab, however, believes that the virus is different to Petya despite having a resemblance to it and so the lab has been referring to the virus as NotPetya. Kaspersky has reported attacks on other countries including Italy, Germany, France, the US and the UK, however, Ukraine, Russia, and Poland seemed to be the primary victims.

Ukraine particularly has been hit badly by the virus. The Kiev Metro system has apparently is no longer accepting payment through credit cards. Several petrol stations were also forced to suspend their operations temporarily. Ukraine’s government system too had been impacted by the cyber-attack.

Spokespersons from renowned security firms have claimed that we should expect such attacks to continue and will be difficult to bring to a halt as attackers have proven it to be an effective way of collecting large sums of money. Companies provide attackers with incentives by giving them massive payouts.

Cyber-extortionists were able to get a huge payout of $1m from a South-Korean firm in return of their files. Despite the authorities advising against it, the Bitcoin account associated with this latest cyber-attack has also received several payouts. The account currently has around $8,700 worth of payouts. If vulnerabilities in IT systems are not addressed and cyber crimes such as this consistently prove to be lucrative then we should expect such attacks to become more prominent in the near future.

Emma Watson Receives First Ever MTV Gender Neutral Award

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Last night MTV presented Emma Watson with their first gender-neutral award. Watson won the prize for MTV Movie and TV award for her role in Beauty and the Beast.

MTV declared the Gender Neutral Award categories after actress Asia Kate Dillon pointed it out at the Emmys. The Emmys had contacted Dillon to ask her what she would like to be addressed as in the ceremony and the category she preferred to be nominated for – actor or actress?

In response, Dillon sent a letter to the organizers questioning why it was important to identify as either to be able to be nominated for her talent as an actor.

The Emmys explained their policy saying that anyone can be nominated under their preferred category for whatever reason.

Dillon was pleased with the response, “I found them to be 100% supportive,” she said.

At the time Dillon opted but the Best Actor category, claiming that the term ‘actor’ was more gender neutral than ‘actress’. Dillon was also the one to present Watson with her award.

MTV decided to take it a step further and dropped the separate gender categories completely.

This isn’t the first time award organizers have gone down this route; back in 2008, the National Television Awards removed the best actor/actress categories altogether and based categories on genre instead.

Watson competed with top actors like Logan actor Hugh Jackman and James McAvoy. Her movie Beauty and the Beast won big at the MTV awards, winning the Movie of the Year Award as well.

She happily accepted the award saying, that to her it “indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” and that gender is irrelevant.

Watson credited the award to her character, Belle, who, like her, is an intelligent, strong woman who dreams big and is not bound by the ways of her village.

Apple Sees Unprecedented Drop in iPhone Sales

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Apple has sold fewer iPhones in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the number of sales in 2016 for the same period.

Apple, which is due to release a new phone later on this year, revealed that it has sold 50.8 million in the first quarter of the year – 1% less year on year.

The company’s CEO Tim Cook believes that the “pause” in sales is expected as people await the release of the new phone.

In the meantime, Apple’s shares dropped by 2% in the late hours of trading after it hit an all-time high on expectations of better results.

Earlier, Apple experienced an increase in revenue by 4.6% across its entire company, reporting revenues of $52.9billion.

The decline in sales was covered up by Apple’s services divisions – iCloud, Apple Pay and it’s App Store whose revenues spiked by 18%, making sales of $7billion.

Cook also pointed out the improved sales of the Apple Watch, Apple’s Airpods, and its Beats headphones.

For Apple, the post-Christmas time of the year is known for the crash in sales but such a drop has left investors dissatisfied since shares hit a record high on Tuesday in anticipation of strong earnings.

Tim Cook did try and draw attention to Apple’s Services Division as Apple Music, iTunes and Apple TV continue to grow – but Apple’s health is most accurately represented by the sales of its greatest contributor – its smartphones.

This year celebrates the 10th anniversary of the iPhone therefore there are a lot of expectations from this upcoming model. Customers and investors expect a significant improvement in the new phone – it can’t just be a simple upgrade of previous versions.

Reports from GlobalData found that the revenues from Apple’s iPhones have declined by a huge $7billion compared to the same period two years ago. The analysts at the firm believe that the iPhone line has matured and the lack of significant improvements in the newer versions has prevented Apple from recovering from the slump it experienced in the last fiscal year.

In addition, Apple faced a sufficient decline in sales in China last year as revenues from there sank by 14%, however, Tim Cook blames the drop on currency fluctuations.

To divert attention from the slow sales of its iPhones, Apple has said that its quarterly profit of $11 billion worldwide was higher by 4.9% of last year’s profits for the same period.

At the same time, the firm has promised to return a whopping $50 billion to its shareholders.

New Episodes of ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Stolen and Shared by Hacker

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Orange Is The New Black Season 5

According to reports, a hacker illegally gained access to 10 new episodes of Netflix’s hit show Orange Is the New Black and has shared them over the Internet after attempting to blackmail Netflix into paying a ransom.

Other than Orange is the New Black, the hacker has stolen XXX: Return of Xander Cage, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Season 1 of Bill Nye Saves the World.

These shows were scheduled to be released by Netflix from June 9 onwards.

The hacker claims to have also stolen shows from cable networks including ABC, National Geographic, and FOX.

Netflix has spoken to Entertainment Weekly regarding the incident, saying that it was “aware of the situation”. The company claims that a production vendor used by many large TV studios had its security compromised and that relevant law-enforcement entities are taking action.

The FBI too has been involved in the investigation that began in late 2016 when the shows were stolen.

The hacker who identifies as The Dark Overload had previously targeted hospitals and other healthcare institutions. On April 29th, a message was released by the hacker on Pastebin, scolding Netflix for failing to pay the demanded ransom.

To make matters worse, the hacker has allegedly provided evidence to cyber security news site Databreaches.net that proves that the hacker has 34 more unreleased shows and films.

Experts and security officials worry that the cyber-attack may inspire other hackers to do the same. It is well-known that pirated content that is yet to be released causes the greatest monetary damage to media companies.

It’s Now Easier for Mentally Ill People to Purchase Weapons

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Thousands of Americans with mental illness could buy guns after Trump strikes down Obama's rule against it (Getty) DELRAY BEACH, FL - JANUARY 05: A customer shops for a handgun at the K&W Gunworks store on the day that U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, DC announced his executive action on guns on January 5, 2016 in Delray Beach, Florida. President Obama announced several measures that he says are intended to advance his gun safety agenda. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Image: Getty Images

In all this talk about what Donald Trump has not been able to achieve in his infamous 100 days, we overlook what he did get done. Well if you didn’t already know, Donald Trump signed a resolution that blocks a rule imposed by the Obama administration that prevented mentally ill people from buying guns. Since its implementation, the rule blocked around 75,000 purchases of weapons by those deemed mentally unfit to be carrying them.

The rule was put into place after Sandy Hook tragedy, where elementary students and their teachers lost their lives in a mass shooting by 20-year, Adam Lanza, who suffered from mental health issues. Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder which led him to first shoot his mother and then march to the school where she taught. At the school, Lanza managed to shoot 20 students between the ages 6-7years old and six of their teachers before shooting himself.

The tragic incident went down as the worst shooting in the history of the US until the Pulse nightclub shooting. The Obama administration responded by introducing the rule, enforced more stringent background checks and placed bans on semi-automatic weapons that could limit the chances of such attacks from taking place.

The new rule demanded Social Security Administration share the list of beneficiaries that suffered from mental illnesses and needed third-party individuals to manage their weapons.

The rule was met with harsh criticism from the Republican Party, the National Rifle Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union. They claimed that the new rule branded those that suffered from mental conditions and infringed upon their rights to bear arms as a citizen of the USA.

Those that disagreed with the rule and wanted it to be repealed like Senator Charles Grassley, said that the regulations consist of “vague characteristics that do not fit into the federal mentally defective standard” and bans them from bearing arms and availing their constitutional rights.

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