Pope Francis' iPad to Be Auctioned for Charity

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An auction house in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo hopes to get at least $40,000 for an iPad used by Pope Francis, with the proceeds to be donated to a Catholic high school in the northwestern city of Paysandu.

“There is interest not only in our country,” auctioneer Juan Castells said. “Recently, we received calls from around the world. The buzz has been great.”

The device to be auctioned on April 14 was given by Pope Francis to Uruguayan priest Gonzalo Aemilius, who visited the Vatican.

The friendship between the two Catholic priests dates to when the future pope, Jorge Bergoglio, was archbishop of Buenos Aires and learned about an educational institution that Aemilius ran in Montevideo.

During Aemilius’s visit to the Vatican, Pope Francis gave him his iPad “to do with whatever he considered appropriate”, Monica Olivelli, principal of the Liceo Francisco school, said.

The new high school, promoted by three Paysandu families and local church authorities, is modelled on the one Aemilius runs in Montevideo and was inaugurated this year.

To help finance the project, Aemilius donated the iPad Pope Francis had given him.

The Liceo Francisco currently has 50 students from low-income families. “The idea is to add 50 new students each year, in addition to those already enrolled,” Olivelli said.

Proceeds from the iPad auction will be used to expand the facility, making room for more students, and to build a multi-sport centre.

The device works and has engraved text that reads “Su Santidad Francisco” and “Vatican Internet Service,” with the date March 2013, the auction house said.

“This is the iPad the Pope was using regularly and, besides, it has a certificate of authenticity from the Vatican itself,” Castells said.

The market value of a similar iPad is around $660.

The iPad that belonged to Pope Francis will not be sold if the bids do not reach the $40,000-mark, Olivelli said.

Apple Unveils Non-iPhone Smartphone Trade-In Program to Boost Sales

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Apple, expanding its Reuse and Recycle Program, has started accepting Android,BlackBerry and Windows Phone smartphones trade-ins from Monday towards store credit via Apple Store Gift Card for a new iPhone or a direct bank transfer. Alongside, the company has started accepting trade-ins of PC models made by various manufacturers.The new trade-in model for the Reuse and Recycle program will first roll out to consumers in the US, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Italy, and has been spotted on the company’s individual retail store pages. The program is valid for select Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices against the purchase ofiPhone 5c, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus only, and it doesn’t include Apple Watch in the trade-in.

apple_reuse_recycle_trade_in_program_screenshot_ukofficial.jpgTo remind you, the expanded Reuse and Recycle program to include non-iPhone devices was first reported earlier this month. In the meanwhile, Bloomberg last week had also reported a trade-in would launch in China on March 31, but would not support trade-ins of smartphones from other manufacturers.

According to the Bloomberg report, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook believes that China is poised to overtake the United States as the company’s biggest market, and he is working to double the number of stores in Greater China by the middle of next year.

Under the China program, Foxconn will buy the iPhones directly, without Apple taking ownership, and repair the devices if needed before selling them on its e-commerce websites such as FLNet and on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Taobao online store, added Bloomberg.

Seven-Year-Old Boy Dies After Chinese Mobile Phone Explodes

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A seven-year-old boy died on Monday when a mobile phone, whose battery was being recharged, exploded suddenly at his home in Chirudih village, about 30 kilometres from Purulia, West Bengal.

Police said the incident took place when the boy, studying in Class I, went near the phone while its battery was being recharged and blew at it.

The phone exploded and the flames charred a part of his body.

Hearing his cries, the family members rushed to the room and doused the flame with water, police said.

The boy was rushed to the Sadar Hospital in Purulia and was declared brought dead by authorities, police said, adding, the phone was found to be a China-made product.

Cuba Reportedly Wants More Internet Access While Keeping State Control

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Cuba wants to boost public Internet access while keeping the Communist government’s control over it, a senior US official close to talks with Havana on technology said Monday.

“They are looking for mechanisms by which, in the first instance, they can expand connectivity while at the same time retaining their mechanism for market management, which is obviously vastly different than ours,” said the State Department source.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, questioned whether Cuba can meet United Nations goals of having 60 percent of the population of 11 million online, and having Internet service in 50 percent of homes by 2020 – without allowing rival providers to enter the small market.

Private Internet connections in Cuba are strictly regulated by the Americas’ lone one-party, Communist-ruled state. Only 3.4 percent of the population can connect from home, according to UN data.

Cuba “would not be the only market in the world with a single provider,” the source noted.

Last week, a US delegation travelled to Cuba to follow up on re-establishing normal telecommunications links as part of the two countries’ bid to normalize relations.

The team was led by Daniel Sepulveda, deputy assistant secretary of state and coordinator for international communications and information policy.

A “preliminary” round of US-Cuban talks devoted to human rights will help set a format for future discussions on the issue, the State Department said.

The encounter, to be held in Washington on Tuesday, would be the latest in a series aimed at normalizing ties between the two Cold War-era adversaries.

The talks have slowly progressed since US President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro surprised the world by announcing on December 17 they were working toward restoring relations severed for more than 50 years.

Goa Mulling Software to Track Illegal Sex Tests

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The administration in Goa is mulling installing a special software to keep record of every ultrasound machine in the state, an official said on Monday, following the recent crackdown on errant ultrasound clinics in South Goa district.

The move comes at a time when Goa, despite healthy social indicators, has been aggressively trying to better its sex ratio, which has seen a dip in recent times.

North Goa’s Additional District Magistrate Swapnil Naik said the administration was also mulling the possibility of installing a special software in every ultrasound machine in the state, which could generate and transmit the record of every examination conducted at the clinics or hospitals straight to the North Goa Collectorate.

“We have a special Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC-PNDT) control room at the Collectorate where this can be relayed,” Naik said.

The Goa government, in the recent past, has examined the possibility of installing a software used in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district, which was used to monitor all ultrasound cases involving pregnant women and enjoyed a degree of success.

“Random checks will be carried out at clinics to physically track the actual report of women attended to by the clinic or hospital by verification of the backup record,” Naik said.

Violations would result in seizure of ultrasound machines of errant establishments, he said.

Goa, which otherwise takes pride in its high literacy percentage of 87.4, has a sex ratio of 968 females per 1,000 males.

While the ratio is slightly above the national average of 940:1,000, as per the 2011 census, the coastal state, however, ranks 11th vis-a-vis sex ratio comparisons, with Kerala topping the list at 1,084:1,000 and Daman and Diu languishing at the bottom with a ratio of 618:1,000.

Successive state governments, in a bid to incentivise giving birth to girls, have also started several cash-oriented schemes.

Facebook Events' Subscribe Button Notifies Users About Nearby Events

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Facebook has rolled out a new Subscribe button in its Events section to notify users about the nearby events hosted by their favourite Pages.The feature has been rolled out to Facebook’s Web interface as well as mobile apps. Upon subscribing, users will get notified when the Pages they like host events near them, notes the Facebook Events page.

Just like the ‘Like’ button, the new events ‘Subscribe’ button will appear beneath all Page names on the Events section. With this, users will be notified about events from the subscribed brand/ musician/ page happening near them. The notifications will be similar to the ones users receive in case of invitation from a friend. Facebook will also provide suggestions to users to subscribe to events from artists and Pages that they have liked.

Last week, Facebook introduced a new feature called ‘On This Day’ to take you through those old memories that you may have forgotten, similar to its ‘Look Back’ and ‘Year in Review’ features.

The On This Day feature shows you posts, photos, videos shared by you or tagged by others from the same date in the past years, all on a single page, unlike the curated video format in Look Back but similar to the timeline format of Year in Review.

Facebook’s new On This Day feature will be accessible on both desktop and mobile in the bookmarks menu, search, News Feed stories, and also on a dedicated page – https://www.facebook.com/onthisday.

Nasa Enters Into Key Partnerships for Deep-Space Missions

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The US space agency has selected 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) to develop the exploration capabilities necessary to enable commercial endeavours in human exploration to deep-space destinations such as Mars.

Through these public-private partnerships, selected companies will prepare concept studies and technology development projects in the areas of advanced propulsion, habitation and small satellites.

“Commercial partners were selected for their technical ability to mature key technologies and their commitment to the potential applications both for government and private sector uses,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at Nasa headquarters in Washington DC.

This work ultimately will inform the strategy to move human presence further into the solar system.

Results from these studies and hardware developments will also help determine the role for international partner involvement by fully exploring domestic capabilities, and for Orion and Space Launch Systems missions in cis-lunar space – the space around the moon.

This work will advance system understanding and define a need for further testing of habitation systems and components on the International Space Station (ISS), Nasasaid in a statement.

Selected advanced electric projects will develop propulsion technology systems in the 50-300 kilowatt range to meet the needs of a variety of deep-space mission concepts.

State-of-the-art electric propulsion technology currently employed by Nasa generates less than five kilowatts, and systems being developed for the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) are in the 40-kilowatt range.

Three NextSTEP advanced propulsion projects – $400,000 to $3.5 million per year – will have no more than a three-year performance period.

The seven NextSTEP habitat projects will have initial performance periods of up to 12 months, at a value of $400,000 to $1 million for the study and development efforts, and the potential for follow-on phases to be defined during the initial phase.

The last two NextSTEP CubeSat projects will have fixed-price contracts.

“This type of public-private partnership helps Nasa stimulate the US space industry while expanding the frontiers of knowledge, capabilities and opportunities in space,” added Jason Crusan from Nasa’s human exploration and operations mission directorate in Washington DC.

South Korea Creates Cyber-Security Post to Counter North's Threat

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Concerned by the growing threat of cyber-attacks from North Korea, South Korea’s cabinet on Tuesday approved the creation of a new presidential post handling cyber-security.

The post will provide a “control tower” for efforts to counter North Korean hackers, presidential spokesman Min Kyung-Wook told reporters.

President Park Geun-Hye is expected to nominate someone for the new position in the near future.

South Korea, one of the world’s most wired nations, has strengthened Internet security since it set up a special cyber-command in 2010, amid growing concern over its vulnerability.

Seoul has blamed North Korean hackers for a series of cyber-attacks on military institutions, banks, government agencies, TV broadcasters and media websites in recent years.

The United States also blamed the North for a cyber-attack on Sony over its controversial North Korea-themed satirical film “The Interview” last year.

Pyongyang denied involvement in the Sony hack but strongly condemned the film, which features a fictional plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong-Un.

More recently, Seoul accused Pyongyang of seeking to throw South Korea into “social chaos” with cyber-attacks last December on South Korea’s nuclear power plant operator.

Pyongyang again denied any involvement and accused Seoul of fabricating the incident to shift the blame for cross-border tensions.

South Korea’s defence ministry believes North Korea runs an elite cyber-warfare unit with up to 6,000 personnel, and regards its ability to launch hacking attacks as a major security threat.

Samsung Mobile Chief's Pay More Than Doubled in 2014

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Samsung Electronics Co Ltd paid co-chief executive J.K. Shin, who oversaw the company’s ascent to the top of the smartphone market, $13 million in 2014, more than double what he received in the previous year.

The increase was largely due to a special bonus payment following Samsung’s record profits in 2013. Samsung suffered its first annual profit decline in three years in 2014, as operating income from the mobile division fell 42 percent.

Shin’s total 2014 compensation, disclosed in Samsung’s annual report filed on Tuesday, was 14.57 billion won ($13 million). This included a base salary of 1.73 billion won and 3.73 billion won in incentives.

The executive received 9.11 billion won in other payments, which included an unspecified one-time bonus payment, which a spokeswoman said was related to the company’s 2013 performance and paid in 2014.

Last year the smartphone maker lost out to archrival Apple Inc in the premium segment and lost market share to Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi Inc in the low-end market.

Whether Shin, who took charge of the mobile division in 2009, can engineer another rebound remains to be seen.

The firm’s latest Galaxy S phones, which will start selling in April, have been well-received by critics and analysts say new mid-tier models have sold well in the January-March quarter.

Samsung chief executive Kwon Oh-hyun, who also heads the firm’s components business, got a 9.39 billion won package, up from 6.77 billion won a year earlier as the chips division’s 2014 profit hit a four-year high.

Samsung did not disclose compensation details for Jay Y. Lee, the company’s vice-chairman and son of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee. The elder Lee receives no salary from the technology company.

Huawei Reports Jump in 2014 Net Profit on Emerging Market Demand

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Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei’s net profit surged more than 32 percent to 27.9 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) in 2014, it said Tuesday, helped by demand from emerging markets.

The United States has long seen Huawei as a security threat due to perceived close links to the Chinese government, which it denies, while both the US and Australia have barred it from involvement in broadband projects over espionage fears. Huawei denies such allegations.

In the annual report, Huawei – which is not listed on any stock exchange – said revenue increased by 21 percent to 288 billion yuan.

“Profit increase stems from streamlined management and improvements in overall efficiency,” Huawei deputy chairman Ken Hu said in a statement.

The Shenzhen-based firm was founded in 1987 by former People’s Liberation Army engineer Ren Zhengfei, and is now among the world’s top makers of telecommunications equipment.

It operates in 170 countries and the company says one third of the world’s population communicate using its products in some way.

It is the world’s second largest network gear supplier behind Sweden’s Ericsson, and has made a large push into consumer products such smartphones in recent years.

Consumer products were the company’s fastest-growing division last year as Huawei saw increased demand in emerging markets, while investment in research and development surged nearly 30 percent year-on-year to 40.8 billion yuan, it said.

Overseas markets contributed more than 62 percent of revenue with the Europe, Middle East and Africa region the largest contributor outside China. As the single largest market, China provided about 38 percent of turnover.