Prince Alwaleed’s arrest: How future Saudi king is tightening grip on power

Analysts said the purge aimed to go beyond corruption and aimed to remove potential opposition to Prince Mohammed’s ambitious reform agenda

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Saudi Arabia’s future king has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.

Saudi Prince Arrest Alwaleed, a nephew of the king and owner of investment firm Kingdom Holding, invests in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter. He was among 11 princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers detained, three senior officials told Reuters on Sunday.

The purge against the kingdom’s political and business elite also targeted the head of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was detained and replaced as minister of the powerful National Guard by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf.

The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery and extorting officials, one official told Reuters, while Prince Miteb is accused of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and awarding contracts to his own companies including a $10 billion deal for walkie-talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals.

News of the purge came soon after King Salman decreed late on Saturday the creation of an anti-corruption committee chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his 32-year-old favourite son who has amassed power since rising from obscurity three years ago. Read More

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Good news for IT cos! US resumes premium processing of H-1B visa categories

H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise

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The US has resumed premium processing of H-1B work visas in all categories, months after it was suspended temporarily to handle the huge rush of applications for the work visas popular among Indian IT professionals.

Premium processing of H-1B visa was suspended in April to handle huge rush of new petitions. In September, the country opened up some categories of the H-1B visas for the fast processing.

“Premium processing is now available for all types of H- 1B petitions,” US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said yesterday.

Also Read : New Rs 100 notes coming next year, printing to begin in April

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

As mandated by the Congress every year USCIS can issues a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas and 20,000 to those who have earned higher education in STEM subjects from a US higher educational institution.

H-1B visas to several categories like those in academic and research institutes is exempted from the Congressional mandated limit.

When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. Read More

Over 18 guns, explosives found at house of Las Vegas gunman who killed 59

The arsenal uncovered in Mesquite comes on top of at least 16 firearms discovered in the Vegas hotel room

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Authorities have said they had recovered a weapons cache including firearms, explosives, and ammunition from a house owned by Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, as they upped the death toll from the attack to 59.

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said officers searching the house in Mesquite, Nevada recovered “in excess of 18 additional firearms, some explosives and several thousand rounds of ammo, along with some electronic devices we’re evaluating at this point.”

Lombardo said the death toll from the Sunday night assault on an open-air concert on the Vegas Strip had risen to 59, while 527 people had been injured.

ALSO READ: At least 58 dead, more than 500 hurt in Las Vegas shooting; gunman killed

He said law enforcement were working four separate crime scenes: Paddock’s room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, the concert venue, the gunman’s house in Mesquite, and another house he owns in northern Nevada which a SWAT team was poised to raid.

The arsenal uncovered in Mesquite comes on top of at least 16 firearms discovered in the Vegas hotel room, from which Paddock launched the deadly assault before killing himself. Read Full Story >>>

Modi in Israel: PM gifts two sets of relics from Kerala to Netanyahu

The relics include sets of copper plates that are believed to have been inscribed in 9-10th century

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Current Affairs : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gifted his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu replicas of two sets of relics from Kerala, regarded as key artefacts of the long Jewish history in India.

Modi, who arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel on July 6 for a three-day visit, presented the relics to Netanyahu at his home.

They comprise two different sets of copper plates that are believed to have been inscribed in 9-10th Century, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The first set of copper plates is a cherished relic for the Cochin Jews in India. It is regarded as a charter describing the grant of hereditary royal privileges and prerogatives by the Hindu King, Cheraman Perumal (often identified as Bhaskara Ravi Varma) to the Jewish leader Joseph Rabban. Read Full Story

ICC Champions Trophy: Pakistan army mocks India after victory

Pakistan won the Champions Trophy cricket final on Sunday by defeating India by 180 runs

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Current Affairs : Pakistan Army has mocked India after the country’s resounding victory in the Champions Trophy cricket final, sharing photos of celebrations in restive Balochistan with a caption “To whom it may concern’. Lay off”.

After posting photos of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa with victory sign and soldiers dancing over Pakistani triumph over India at the Oval, military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor shared pictures from Balochistan where people were celebrating the victory.

“And this is Our Balochistan. ‘To whom it may concern’. Lay off,” he wrote along with photos.

The pictures were apparently in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech last year in which he had raised the issue Pakistan’s atrocities on people of Baluchistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Ghafoor also posted a video showing people in Srinagar purportedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India.

“And this is………Srinagar!!” he wrote.

In another tweet, he said, “Valiant soldiers of Pakistan congrat Team Pak & Nation. United we shall defend Pak against all threats our enemies hatch.”

Pakistan won the Champions Trophy cricket final on Sunday by defeating India by 180 runs.

United Airlines could have avoided PR nightmare by following economics 101

According to reports, airlines routinely overbook their flights leading inconvenience to passengers

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On April 9, a passenger was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight from Chicago O’Hare to Louisville after the carrier was unable to find volunteers to accommodate four of its employees on standby.

Dramatic videos of the incident have gone viral on YouTube and social networks, and I reckon the resulting cost of this PR disaster will likely make United’s CEO wish he had sent in a private jet to ferry those employees to Louisville (which the airline could easily have afforded, given its net income of US$2.3 billion in 2016).

ALSO READ: United shares fall after worldwide backlash over dragged passenger

Many articles have reported that airlines routinely overbook their flights, and sometimes passengers have to accept (voluntarily or not) the inconvenience of getting to their destination later than planned.

As an airline economist, I do not recall, however, such a situation ever escalating to the level it did on that United flight. The incident raises many questions, including why airlines overbook and what the carrier could have done differently.

Airline economics 101: Why they overbook

Overbooking is indeed something that the airlines routinely do, and it represents a rational behavior for a carrier that sells some of its tickets as fully refundable contracts (mostly to business customers who pay the highest rates).

While the last few years have generally been good for airline profitability, the brutal truth is that profit margins have been rather low historically. Airlines rank below most other industries in terms of return on invested capital, according to the International Air Transport Association. readmore

Apple releases red iPhones, cuts prices on lower-end iPads

The iPad Air 2 is replaced by a new model simply called the iPad costing $329

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Apple is refreshing and cutting prices on two of its iPads, but held back on updating its higher-end tablets.

A much-speculated 10.5-inch iPad didn’t materialise, nor did new versions of iPad Pros aimed at businesses and creative professionals.

Apple unveiled the new iPads through a press release rather than a staged event, the opposite of the process reserved for bigger product releases, which typically are unveiled in September or October, in time for the holiday shopping season.

The tablet market is in an extended decline after a few years of rapid growth. According to IDC, tablet shipments fell 20 percent, to 53 million in the final three months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015.

The iPad Air 2 is replaced by a new model simply called the iPad. It retains a 9.7-inch screen, but the display is brighter and the processor faster. Its price starts at $329 for 32 gigabytes of storage, down from $399.

The smaller, 7.9-inch iPad Mini 4 now comes with 128 gigabytes of storage starting at $399, down from $499. It’s eliminating 32-gigabyte model, which used to sell for $399. Read More

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