North America Stay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.. Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:05:34 +0000 SRA Framework 2.0 en-gb Google's Waze app endangers police: LAPD chief

imageLOS ANGELES: Google's newly acquired Waze application poses a danger to police because of its ability to track their locations, the Los Angeles police chief said in a letter to the tech company's CEO.

According to the document police chief Charlie Beck sent to Google CEO Larry Page on December 30, people are using the "unwitting" Waze community as "their lookouts for the location of police officers."

Waze is a traffic and navigation application that users contribute information to in order to share real-time road information.

Beck said the shooter in a recent double murder of two New York police officers used the application to track the location of cops.

"I am concerned about the safety of law enforcement officers and the community, and the potential for your Waze product to be misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community," the letter said.

Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, killed police officer Wenjian Liu and his partner Rafael Ramos in December while they sat in their squad car.

Waze rejected the allegation, arguing that the application is welcomed by many law enforcement agencies.

"We think very deeply about safety and security and work in partnership with the NYPD and other police and departments of transportation all over the world ... to help municipalities better understand what's happening in their cities in real time. These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion," said Waze spokeswoman Julie Mossler.

"Police partners support Waze and its features, including reports of police presence, because most users tend to drive more carefully when they believe law enforcement is nearby.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:28:19 +0000
New York, meteorologists defend storm shutdown imageNEW YORK: New York authorities and meteorologists on Tuesday defended a decision to shut down America's biggest city for a storm that skirted the Big Apple, dumping the worst snow east and north.

Travel bans were lifted, public transport resumed and parks reopened in the city of eight million people, easing many of the measures put in place as Winter Storm Juno moved in on Monday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city got only a fraction of the two feet (60 centimeters) of snow that had been widely predicted in the 48 hours leading up to the storm.

"You plan the best you can and you lean toward safety," said New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo, fending off a barrage of questions.

"It may actually have brought us back to full operating capacity sooner but I do not criticize weather forecasters. I learn."

The clean-up will continue until Wednesday, when schools will reopen, and city and state employees will return to work.

Broadway theaters announced that most shows would go ahead Tuesday as planned, after the Great White Way went dark Monday.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 28 Jan 2015 04:00:47 +0000
Castro message 'positive sign' imageWASHINGTON: The United States welcomed Tuesday former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's belated response to the thaw in ties between the Cold War foes as a sign that change is under way in Havana.

"We take his reference of 'international norms and principles' as a positive sign," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, after Castro's letter was released.

Psaki said Washington now looked forward "to the Cuban government implementing those international norms and principles for a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba."

Last week, the highest-ranking US delegation in 35 years began negotiating with Cuban officials in Havana on restoring diplomatic ties, reopening embassies in their respective capitals and lifting some travel restrictions.

Psaki stressed though that there was "a lot more work to be done" and revealed the US has "invited Cuban officials to Washington in the coming weeks" to continue the talks.

No definite date has been set yet.

Fidel Castro, 88, and still an influential former leader of the Caribbean country released his letter to state media late Monday, after last week's historic first round of talks.

The revolutionary icon noted that he did not trust the United States, but did not repudiate the reconciliation process and defended the peaceful resolution of conflicts with "political adversaries."

And his language contained a nod to a normalization in ties.

"Any peaceful and negotiated solution to problems between the United States and the peoples or any people of Latin America, which does not imply force or the use of force, should be treated according to international norms and principles," Castro said.

Psaki countered however that it was not about trust.

It was "about what's in the interest of the people of Cuba, what's in the interest of our own national security interest, our economic interest," she said.

In December, US President Barack Obama and Raul Castro, who succeeded an Fidel as Cuba's president in 2006, agreed to begin normalizing ties more than 50 years after they were broken.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 28 Jan 2015 03:58:58 +0000
US state executes killer despite disability claim imageWASHINGTON: The US state of Georgia executed a double killer Tuesday whose lawyers said he was intellectually disabled, after last-minute pleas for his life were thrown out.

The Supreme Court turned down the final appeal from lawyers of Warren Hill, 54, who was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 7:55 pm (0055 GMT), a prison spokeswoman said.

The court voted 7-2 not to take up the petition arguing Hill shouldn't be executed because he was intellectually disabled.

Hill, whose advocates say he had an IQ of 70, was sentenced to death after killing a fellow inmate with a nail-studded board in 1990 while serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend.

A number of experts and state doctors had testified to Hill's mental disability.

The European Union, lawyers and doctors -- as well as public figures including former US president Jimmy Carter -- had also called for mercy for Hill.

"This execution is an abomination," Hill's attorney Brian Kammer said after the Supreme Court decision that condemned his client.

"Today, the court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia.

"The memory of Mr. Hill's illegal execution will live on as a moral stain on the people of this state and on the courts that allowed this to happen."

Execution of intellectually disabled people was prohibited by the top court in a 1986 decision under the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

But the court left the interpretation of what "intellectually disabled" means to the states.

Georgia has one of the strictest definitions of the term, requiring defense attorneys to prove without a reasonable doubt that a defendant is intellectually disabled to be spared capital punishment.

Hill had his execution delayed several times before for a variety of appeals.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Wed, 28 Jan 2015 03:55:10 +0000
Mexico 'certain' that missing students dead: minister imageMEXICO CITY: Authorities in Mexico can now say with "legal certainty" that the 43 students who went missing in September were murdered by hitmen working for a drug gang, the justice minister said Tuesday.

The disappearance of the men -- all aspiring teachers attending classes at a training college in the southern state of Guerrero -- sparked nationwide protests and a crisis for the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Officials said the students vanished after gang-linked police attacked their buses in the city of Iguala, allegedly under orders from the mayor and his wife in a night of terror that left six other people dead.

The police then delivered the young men to members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, who told investigators they took them in two trucks to a landfill, killed them, burned their bodies and dumped them in a river.

The investigation "gives us the legal certainty that the student teachers were killed in the circumstances that have been described," Justice Minister Jesus Murillo Karam told a press conference.

Witness and expert testimony "have allowed us to... come to the conclusion beyond a doubt that the students were abducted and killed, before being incinerated and thrown into the San Juan river, in that order," he said.

Until now, authorities had still officially considered the students to be missing.

Relatives of the victims, who marched on Monday with several thousand people in Mexico City to mark the four-month mark since their disappearance, have refused to accept the official explanation of events.

For now, only one of the students has been positively identified from charred remains, which leaves little hope of finding the 42 others.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Tue, 27 Jan 2015 22:22:25 +0000
US senator says expects fast-track trade bill in February imageWASHINGTON: The head of the Senate committee responsible for trade said on Tuesday he hopes to present a bill to streamline the passage of trade deals through the US Congress in February.

Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said he was still working with the top Democrat on the panel, Ron Wyden, and others on the final form of the bill.

"I'm hoping to move it along, it will happen in February," he told reporters. Hatch said last week he wanted to introduce the bill this month.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:50:45 +0000
Scott Walker has breakthrough moment in Iowa. Now what? imageWASHINGTON: Republican Scott Walker had a breakthrough moment at a forum for conservatives in Iowa and on Tuesday took a step toward a US presidential run. Now the Wisconsin governor has to find a way to break from the pack of politicians eyeing the 2016 race.

Walker, 47, stood out among a long list of potential candidates who sought the attention of a thousand conservative grassroots activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday.

Coatless with his shirt sleeves rolled up, Walker talked up his conservative record as governor, including his defeat of a 2012 recall effort over his challenge to the collective bargaining process for most public unions.

Trailing potential rivals in campaign organization and fund-raising, Walker lacks the name recognition of such party heavyweights as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The first contest in the nominating process is a year away, but Bush's early decision to explore a run for the Republican nomination has accelerated the race, and the scramble is on to build donor networks and attract talented staff.

On Tuesday, Walker formed "Our American Revival," an organization that allows him to promote his message and raise money in support of that effort, a first step toward a presidential campaign.

"Will Governor Walker be able to compete in a field that has proven major financial players? I know that's an issue that those in his camp are sensitive to," said Matt Strawn, a former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party.

All told, Walker has won three statewide elections in four years, defeating the recall effort and emerging triumphant in votes in 2010 and last November.


"That sends a powerful message to Republicans in Washington and around the country: if you're not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results," Walker said. People at the Iowa Freedom Summit liked what they heard. "He didn't do any tap-dancing around the issues," said Bob Gough of Lee's Summit, Missouri. "A lot of people describe the problems we're having but didn't kind of close the loop on how it has to get fixed, and I think Scott described the changes that he had made and the things that need to be done."

The recall effort over the union dispute put Walker in the spotlight and made him a darling of the right.

The national donor network that raised money for him in the recall fight could come to his aid and help him stand out in a field of a dozen candidates or more.

"He'll face money issues like everybody else, but he will be competitive like everybody else," said Kurt Bauer, head of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

Since Wisconsin adjoins Iowa, Walker would need to do well in the Iowa caucuses a year from now to catapult himself to the next nominating contests in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

He has begun building a team, with the hiring of David Polyansky as senior presence in Iowa and Rick Wiley as executive director of his "Our American Revival" committee.

"To move this country forward, we need new, fresh leadership from outside Washington," Walker said in announcing the committee.

To win, Walker has to think beyond Iowa. Unlike Christie, who has paid a lot of attention to New Hampshire as he considers a run, Walker has not made many inroads in the state that holds the first presidential primary. He will appear there on March 14. "He starts at the bottom," said Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

"There's a path for him no doubt about that. But there's going to be a lot of competition, and it's going to take more than one good day in Iowa to launch his candidacy."

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:32:26 +0000
US Congress eases pressure for new Iran sanctions imageWASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama won some breathing room Tuesday for his nuclear dialogue with Iran, as legislation calling for strict new sanctions on Tehran lost some crucial support in Congress.

Senator Robert Menendez announced that he and some fellow Democrats had assured Obama they would not vote in support of new sanctions prior to a negotiations target date of March 24.

Under the interim agreement reached in November, representatives of the so-called P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and Tehran gave themselves three months to reach a political agreement -- with a final deal due before July 1.

"Many of my Democratic colleagues and I sent a letter to the president telling him that we will not support passage of the Kirk-Menendez bill on the Senate floor until after March 24, and only if there's no political framework agreement," Menendez said, referring to legislation he authored with Republican Senator Mark Kirk.

"Because, as the letter states, we remain hopeful that diplomacy will succeed in reversing Iran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability in accordance with the timeline."

The announcement marks an abrupt reversal for Menendez, who had defied the White House by pressing for swift passage of his bill, which would impose staggered sanctions against Iran in case negotiations on a final agreement fail.

Without Democratic support, the Republican Senate majority would be unable to pass the sanctions measure.

The Menendez-Kirk bill, which has yet to be formally introduced and is the subject of a fierce battle between Congress and the White House, would gradually strengthen US sanctions against Iran over a six-month period starting in July, to put pressure on the Iranian leadership.

The Obama administration says such a move by Congress in the midst of sensitive and historic talks could derail the diplomatic effort.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:21:37 +0000
New York shuts down as winter storm blasts US imageNEW YORK: A major storm forced New York to impose driving bans and halt public transport late Monday, as snowfall pounded the northeastern United States affecting tens of millions of people.

Heavy snowfall, combined with powerful wind and even thunderstorms is expected to dump two to three feet (up to a meter) of snow in New York, but with New England worst affected.

More than 7,100 flights were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday, as Manhattan was abandoned by panicked commuters rushing home early, leaving behind eerily quiet snowy streets.

New York shut its transit system at 11pm, made non-emergency road travel a criminal offense in 13 counties and closed tunnels and bridges connecting Manhattan to New Jersey.

"It could be a matter of life and death, and that's not being overly dramatic, so caution is required," New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo warned.

The subway last closed for Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which killed more than 200 people and caused months-long power cuts.

States of emergency were declared in states across the affected region as residents rushed to supermarkets to stockpile food.

"I have nothing to eat, I need some food. Who knows if tomorrow I'm going to leave my house," said boutique worker Rosa Ramirez, queuing outside an upmarket Whole Foods store in Manhattan.

"What I do not know is how long I'll have to wait," she said, as snow and icy wind gusted through the queue of shoppers.

New York's famed Broadway and top music venues -- including Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera -- shelved performances. NBA games were also postponed.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri) North America Tue, 27 Jan 2015 04:52:40 +0000
Canada's Oliver promises balanced budget, cites growth forecasts

imageOTTAWA: Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver on Monday insisted that the government would balance the next year's budget despite falling oil prices and said the country's economy would outperform most of its rivals.

Oliver, pressed by opposition legislators about the state of the economy, also told the House of Commons that the manufacturing sector would be helped by the slumping price of crude oil.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui) North America Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:06:58 +0000