Dollar slips vs euro after US durable goods orders dive
NEW YORK (AFP) - The dollar fell against the euro Thursday as the US government reported a slump in US durable goods orders, further evidence of a slowing economy.The Commerce Department s report of a steep 5.1 percent drop in new orders for manufactured goods in December was far worse than analysts expected and underlined the weakness in the US manufacturing sector.

It came a day after the Federal Reserve left the door open to a March interest rate increase, saying the decision would be data-dependent.

"The trade-weighted dollar slipped to one-week lows after a disastrous set of factory figures" that pushed higher the bar for the next Fed rate hike, said Joe Manimbo of Western Union Business Solutions.

The dollar traded 0.4 percent lower at $1.0941 per euro around 2200 GMT from the same time on Wednesday.

"The Fed says it will watch and weigh all incoming data to determine when the next rate hike will occur. Today s numbers don t argue for anything happening right away," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.

Naroff said the government s first estimate of fourth-quarter economic growth, scheduled Friday, was "likely to disappoint."

The yen was under pressure as the Bank of Japan opened a two-day monetary policy that some analysts thought could yield more stimulus for the ailing economy.

The dollar rose to 118.82 yen and the euro advanced to 130.00 yen.
Smartphone shipments hit record high in 2015: report

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - More than 1.4 billion smartphones were shipped worldwide last year in a new high for the sector with Chinese handset makers racking up the biggest gains, an industry tracker said Wednesday.

Global smartphone shipments for 2015 jumped slightly more than 10 percent to an unprecedented 1.43 billion, said International Data Corporation (IDC), releasing its preliminary figures.

South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung remained the top smartphone maker, shipping 85.6 million units in the final quarter and 324.8 million for the year, according to the IDC s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report.

Second-place Apple shipped a record-setting 74.8 million iPhones in the quarter and were up slightly more than 20 percent to 231.5 million units for the year, said IDC, a day after Apple warned that iPhone sales are set to fall for the first time.

"Apple assured the public that demand for its premium smartphones is still alive and kicking," said IDC s Anthony Scarsella, referring to the new figures.

"A new record-setting quarter for Apple indicates consumers continued demand for Apple s latest offerings regarding upgraded hardware and software."

Samsung faces increasing pressure from US-based Apple in the high-end smartphone market and from Chinese firms such as Xiaomi and Huawei when it comes to mid or low-priced handsets, according to IDC.

"Usually the conversation in the smartphone market revolves around Samsung and Apple, but Huawei s strong showing for both the quarter and the year speak to how much it has grown as an international brand," said IDC s Melissa Chau.

"While there is a lot of uncertainty around the economic slowdown in China, Huawei is one of the few brands from China that has successfully diversified worldwide."

Huawei shipped 32.4 million smartphones in the final quarter of 2015, pushing its total for the year to 106.6 million.

Huawei became the fourth mobile phone maker ever to ship more than 100 million units in a year, joining Apple, Samsung and Nokia.

"Huawei is poised to be in a good position to hold onto a strong number three over the next year," Chau said.
Kaptaan returns: Imran started Fast Bowlers Talent Hunt

LAHORE:   After politics, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has entered sports as well as PTI Chairman Imran Khan will start Fast Bowlers Talent Hunt program from Lahore.

After playing the tough opposition in the politics of the country, PTI has also entered the field of sports now. PTI will help Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) by providing them with outstanding fast bowlers, who will represent Pakistan in the future.

The first talent hunt program in this regard will start in Lahore and will later be expanded to Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Islamabad. Youth aged between 16 and 25 will be able to display their talents in this program. 5 best bowlers will be referred to PCB after being selected from this program.

The good news for the young talent is that the selected best bowler will also be given job at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

The first camp in this regard will be held in Lahore’s LCCA Ground on 20th and 21st of February.
Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda, an American actor best known for roles in "The Godfather" and the 1970s sitcom "Barney Miller," died on Tuesday at the age of 94, after spending three decades jokingly refuting rumors of his demise.

Vigoda's daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, said her father died at her home in New Jersey. "He died in his sleep, of natural causes. He was not sick," she told Reuters.

Vigoda, who was adept at drama and comedy with a hang-dog face, slouched posture and slow delivery, played mobster traitor Salvatore Tessio in "The Godfather" in 1972, his first credited movie role. His character was doomed for betraying the Corleone family in the film but had a cameo role in the flashback scenes of "The Godfather Part II" two years later.

His most famous role was as the grumpy and deadpan Detective Sergeant Phil Fish in the "Barney Miller" police comedy series. He picked up three supporting-actor Emmy nominations for the part.

Vigoda spent years amiably proving he was still alive after People magazine mistakenly declared him "the late Abe Vigoda" in 1982, when he was 62. The question of his mortality became a running gag that he learned to live with.

To disprove the People report, he posed for a photo sitting in a coffin. His alive-or-dead status became an often-revisited joke in his appearances on Conan O'Brien's late-night show and in a skit on David Letterman's show, he curtly advised the host, "I'm not dead yet, you pinhead!"

Vigoda also had roles in films where his longevity was the joke and appeared with the equally well-seasoned actress Betty White in a commercial during the Super Bowl in February 2010.

The website was set up simply to give his status - "Abe Vigoda is alive" - above a photo of the actor and a date/time stamp. On Tuesday, that was changed to "Abe Vigoda is dead."

Born in New York City on Feb. 24, 1921, Abraham Charles Vigodah was the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. His father was a tailor.

He had his first role on stage at age 17 and, dropping the "H" from his last name along the way, had modest success in theater and on television through the 1960s.

Vigoda was already past 50 when he got his break in "The Godfather." In an interview with CNN, Vigoda recalled being summoned to the office of director Francis Ford Coppola in an open casting call.

"It seems he'd seen me in a play or plays," Vigoda said, adding that one of the reasons Coppola "was interested in me was that nobody knew my face."

Vigoda said the role opposite stars like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and James Caan in one of Hollywood's greatest movies changed his life.

From there, Vigoda moved to the "Barney Miller" series.

"I got the role because the producer thought I looked tired," Vigoda said. "But I looked tired because I had been jogging earlier that day."

In a typical line from "Barney Miller," Fish bemoaned the effects of age: "Do you know what it feels like to be running down 43rd Street and your partner is cornering a guy on 52nd? Do you know how I found out what happened? I asked a reporter. Four radio stations beat me to the scene of the crime."

Unlike the creaky, lethargic Fish, Vigoda was a vigorous man who played handball regularly and was still jogging into his 80s.

Vigoda worked in TV and movies well into his 80s. His other work included the films "Good Burger," "Joe Versus the Volcano," "Look Who's Talking" and "Cannonball Run." He also appeared on television series such as "Soap," "The Rockford Files," "Wings" and the vampire soap opera "Dark Shadows."
24 Migrants Drown Off Greek Island

Twenty-four people attempting to cross to Europe from Turkey drowned when their boat sank off a Greek island, the Greek coastguard said on Thursday, raising to at least 80 the number of migrants and refugees to have died at sea in the past week.

More than 900,000 people fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and other war-torn or impoverished countries arrived in Greece from Turkey last year, often risking the short but dangerous sea crossing in overloaded boats.

The latest accident occurred late on Wednesday north of the island of Samos, close to the Turkish coast. The coastguard said a man who managed to swim ashore told Greek authorities the boat had been carrying 40 to 45 people.

A day earlier, six people including a child drowned when their vessel sank off the island of Kos.

The inflow has continued unabated through the winter months despite the cold conditions and choppy sea, with about 2,000 people landing on Greece's islands a day, according to data by the United Nations' refugee agency, UNHCR.

Few, if any, of arrivals to Greece choose to stay and seek asylum in the country, which is struggling through its worst peacetime economic crisis. Most continue their trek through Greece and the Balkans to wealthier western European countries.

On Wednesday, the European Commission warned there could be more controls over movement between Greece and other states in the free-travel Schengen zone from May unless Greece fixed "serious deficiencies" in its management of the zone's external frontier.

Several EU member states have instituted emergency controls on their borders and warned they may effectively suspend Athens from the passport-free zone.

The mayor or Lesbos, the island through which most refugees and migrants passed last year, said on Thursday such warnings were "completely unfair, completely absurd."

"More than 550,000 people passed through the island of Lesbos alone - which is but a dot on the global map - and we didn't close borders," he said. "Greece is doing whatever it can. It's doing a lot more than it can."

Philippe Leclerc, the UNHCR's acting Greece representative called on EU countries to "act together, and not individually."

"Every state ... has to play its part and we count on them to show responsibility, trust and solidarity far more than they have shown today," he said during a visit to the Eleonas refugee camp in Athens, which houses mostly Afghans and Iranians.
karachi news

KARACHI: Six terrorists including a key commander of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were arrested after a police encounter in Rizvia Society of Karachi late Thursday night.

According to SSP Central, Muqadas Haider, police conducted the raid on a tip-off at a house in Rizvia society, where exchange of fire took place between police and terrorists.

Police cordoned off the house and arrested the six terrorists including the key TTP commander. The terrorists were identified as Syed Ahmed, Syed Alam, Syed Amin, Nasir Adil, Islamuddin and Muzaffar.

Police also seized a hand grenade and an explosive-laden motorcycle from their possession.

The bomb disposal squad reached the spot and defused the explosives weighing around 5kg. One policeman also sustained injured in exchange of fire.
Apple to appeal $533 patent infringement award
WASHINGTON - Apple said Wednesday it would appeal a $533 million award from a federal court in Texas in a patent infringement lawsuit over flash memory technology used in its iTunes music store.

The statement emailed to AFP came a day after the jury ordered Apple pay damages to Smartflash LLC, which calls itself a technology licensing and development company.

"Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented," the California tech giant said.

"We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system."

Apple added that "we rely on the patent system to protect real innovation and this case is one more example of why we feel so strongly Congress should enact meaningful patent reform."

Smartflash claimed in the 2013 lawsuit filed in Texas federal court that it held patents to "data storage and access systems" used by Apple s iTunes store.

The technology allows for to manage access and payment information to digital content.

The case is one of many patent suits from licensing firms which make no products but hold rights to certain technologies. Critics call these firms "patent trolls."

Apple was ordered in 2013 to pay $368 million to another licensing firm called VirnetX, a verdict later overturned by a federal appeals court.

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Double Brit wins for Sheeran, Smith as Madonna tumbles
LONDON (AFP) - British singers Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith took two prizes each at a glittering Brit Awards on Wednesday marred by a mishap that saw Madonna dragged to the ground by her cape.

Sheeran won British male solo artist and album of the year for "x", while 22-year-old Londoner Smith won British breakthrough act and global success award after his debut album "In the Lonely Hour" won worldwide acclaim.

"This is incredible, I really didn t expect this," Smith told the crowd, while Sheeran called it a great night for British music that defied those who said "selling records is dead".

As pop veteran Madonna took to the stage flanked by muscled male dancers wearing horns, her long black cape caught and dragged her down a set of stage steps in a dramatic fall.

But the 56-year-old gamely shrugged off the mishap, removing the cape and giving a stomping performance of "Living for Love" -- a retort to a menopause joke about her from comic Jimmy Carr that drew booing earlier in the night.

"My beautiful cape was tied too tight! But nothing can stop me and love really lifted me up! Thanks for your good wishes! I m fine!" the queen of pop wrote later on her Facebook page.

The ceremony kicked off with a pitch-perfect rendition of "Blank Space" by country music sweetheart turned pop sensation Taylor Swift, who won the international female solo artist award.

"I ve been coming to England and playing shows for eight years and this is my first award. I m so happy," Swift said as she accepted the prize -- Britain s version of a Grammy.

She paid tribute to Sheeran, "who took me to pubs and taught me to make a good cup of tea and taught me everything I know about the UK."

Smith, who had led nominations on the night, gave a soulful performance of his runaway hit "Stay with Me", which was named Song of the Year at the Grammys in Los Angeles earlier this month.

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Saeed Ajmal says ready to play for Pakistan in World Cup

LAHORE  -- In a conversation between Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Qadir on Dunya News  show ‘On the Front’, Abdul Qadir said that Pakistan direly needs the services of Saeed Ajmal.

He further added that even if Ajmal bowls with a fold on his eyes, he would fare better than the current bowlers in the Pakistani lineup. 

The former test cricketer said that had Ajmal been a part of the Pakistan squad, Indian players would have found hard to pile runs against the bowling side. 

He said that Saeed Ajmal should declare his participation in the World Cup at this instance and should he do so, the whole nation will support him.

Saeed Ajmal responded by saying that he is ready to play his part in the World Cup.

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Zimbabwe can surprise Pakistan, India’

Former Zimbabwe skipper Alistair Campbell feels that Zimbabwe possesses the potential to beat strong Pakistan and India teams on their way to secure a World Cup quarterfinal berth.

“The match against Ireland is crucial to our chances of progressing but we will have to beat Pakistan or India too,” said the former left hand batsman.

He said it was not impossible, however, Zimbabwe bowlers will have to limit the number of runs in the final overs.

“The best way of course is to take more early wickets,” said Campbell in his exclusive column for ICC.

“Our batting has been a problem area for a number of years so it has been a pleasure and relief to see it functioning well enough to register scores of 280 in all three matches against South Africa, the UAE and the West Indies,” he added.

Zimbabwe put resistance before going down against South Africa and West Indies while beating an adamant UAE.

The African side will have a daunting task to beat defending champions India, which have an immaculate campaign as of yet beating Pakistan and one of the tournament favorites South Africa.

However, they will face an underperforming Pakistan when the two sides meet on Sunday.

If they pull victories against Ireland, which are performing well, and beat lackluster Pakistan, then there will be a chance for the side to make it to the quarters from Pool B.
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