How the world is reacting to war of words between Trump and North Korea

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This week, tensions between the United States and North Korea hit a boiling point.

Things ratcheted up Tuesday when President Trump told reporters that the United States would respond with “fire and fury the likes the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continues its provocations. (He later suggested that his world-rattling words might not have been “tough enough.”) Those comments came in response to U.S. intelligence reports suggesting that Pyongyang had the capacity to fit a nuclear weapon to a long-range ballistic missile.

On Wednesday, North Korea struck back, calling Trump’s statement a “load of nonsense,” and accusing the U.S. president of being senile and spending too much time on golf. The country also warned that it is working on a plan to deploy four missiles that would envelope Guam, a U.S. territory with several American bases, in a wall of fire.

Though senior U.S. officials rushed to calm Americans and allies, the president did little to cool tensions Thursday, announcing that his administration is reviewing its options and that the military is “locked and loaded,” ready to #fighttonight.

Here’s a look at how other countries are responding to this tense situation:

China

In the past, China has tried to act as something of a mediator between the United States and North Korea, urging restraint and caution on both sides. As The Washington Post’s China correspondent reported, “China has become deeply frustrated with the regime in Pyongyang, and genuinely wants to see a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. But it has always refused to do anything that might destabilize or topple a regime which has long been both ally and buffer state . … That’s because Beijing does not want to see a unified Korean state allied to the United States on its border: Indeed, hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers died during the 1950-53 Korean War to prevent that from happening.”

But on Friday, Beijing said in no uncertain terms that it would not come to North Korea’s defense if the Hermit Kingdom launched a preemptive strike against the United States. An editorial in the state-run Global Times reads, in part, “if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral. … If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long argued for a tougher line on North Korea, pushing to strengthen Japan’s military and antimissile defense. In recent days, Abe and other senior officials have reiterated their support of the U.S. president’s strategy. Trump is “putting all options on the table,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said to the New York Times. “Our government approves of that stance. It’s extremely important that the Japan-U.S. alliance further strengthens its ability to deter and respond.”

That might not sit so well with Japan’s electorate, which largely does not share Abe’s bellicose position. “If it looks like the U.S. set off the chain of events that led to escalation, and Abe didn’t use his relationship with Trump to moderate that, it’s easy to imagine that there would be a domestic price to pay,” Tobias Harris, a Japan analyst at Teneo Intelligence, told the New York Times.

South Korea

On Friday, South Korea said that the country’s national security adviser had been in touch with his American counterpart and had been assured that the White House will not do anything on the Korean Peninsula that would “catch the South off guard.” “Both South Korea and the United States reaffirmed their promise that as they take step-by-step measures to ensure their security and the safety of their peoples, they will coordinate with each other closely and transparently,” a statement from presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.

Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Friday that Russia will not accept a nuclear North Korea. But he blamed the current tensions on the United States and Kim Jong Un’s regime, saying that there has been an “overwhelming amount” of “belligerent rhetoric” from Washington and Pyongyang. Lavrov also advocated for his country’s preferred solution to the crisis — a “smart plan” developed by Russia and China that would have Kim freeze his country’s nuclear tests in exchange for the United States and South Korea freezing their large-scale drills.

Live on state television, Lavrov said that “there are direct threats of deploying [military] power” and that “the side that is stronger and cleverer” will take the first step to defuse tensions.

Australia

In a statement to 3AW, an Australian radio station, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that if North Korea launches an attack on the United States, Australia will have our back. “America stands by its allies, including Australia of course, and we stand by the United States,” Turnbull said, according to ABC. “Be very, very clear on that. If there’s an attack on the U.S., the ANZUS Treaty would be invoked and Australia would come to the aid of the United States, as America would come to our aid if we were attacked.”

He also called on Kim’s regime to stop its “illegal, reckless, provocative conduct.”

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the escalation of rhetoric “the wrong answer.” She has pledged her country’s support to “any nonmilitary solutions,” telling reporters in Berlin: “I don’t see a military solution to this conflict . … I see the need for enduring work at the U.N. Security Council … as well as tight cooperation between the countries involved, especially the U.S. and China.”

United Kingdom

British officials have called on the United States to dial back the rhetoric. First Secretary of State Damian Green has said that it is “obviously” in Britain’s interests for the the two countries to avoid war; he also called on Trump to “be sensible” and go through the United Nations before undertaking military action. According to the Sun, an unnamed government source has said the U.K. won’t support a U.S. military strike. “The Americans are more than capable of doing what they might want, or have to do, in the region without our help,” the paper quoted the source as saying.

France

On Wednesday, government spokesman Christophe Castaner told reporters that his country was “preoccupied” by the situation and urged “all sides” to “act responsibly.”

Guam

Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo has endeavored to calm nerves and reassure the island’s 160,000 citizens that they’re safe. In a video address, he said, “There is no change in the threat level resulting from North Korea events” and that “there are several levels of defense, all strategically placed to protect our island and our nation.” But Guam also released a two-page pamphlet advising residents on how to react to a North Korean strike.

“Our island has been a target since 2013, and even before that,” Dee Cruz, a senior watch officer with Guam Homeland Security, told The Post. “We’re ready, and prepared, as much as possible.”

Source:-washingtonpost

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker

Never Too Old to Code: Meet the 82-Year-Old App-Maker

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Masako Wakamiya is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers
  • She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly
  • Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’

When 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya first began working she still used an abacus for maths – today she is one of the world’s oldest iPhone app developers, a trailblazer in making smartphones accessible for the elderly.

Frustrated by the lack of interest from the tech industry in engaging older people, she taught herself to code and set about doing it herself.

The over 60s, she insists, need to actively search out new skills to stay nimble.

“As you age, you lose many things: your husband, your job, your hair, your eyesight. The minuses are quite numerous. But when you learn something new, whether it be programming or the piano, it is a plus, it’s motivating,” she says.

“Once you’ve achieved your professional life, you should return to school. In the era of the internet, if you stop learning, it has consequences for your daily life,” Wakamiya explains during an AFP interview at her home near Tokyo.

She became interested in computers in the 1990s when she retired from her job as a bank clerk. It took her months to set up her first system, beginning with BBS messaging, a precursor to the Internet, before building her skills on a Microsoft PC, and then Apple’s Mac and iPhones.

She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly, but a repeated lack of response led her to take matters into her own hands.

Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed ‘Hinadan’ one of Japan’s first dedicated app games for the over-60s – she is now in such demand that this year Apple invited her to participate at their prestigious Worldwide Developers Conference, where she was the oldest app creator to take part.

‘Source of inspiration’
‘Hinadan’ – ‘the doll staircase’ – was inspired by the Hina Matsuri, a doll festival which takes place every March, where ornamental dolls representing the emperor, his family and their guests are displayed in a specific arrangement.

In Wakamiya’s app, users have to put them in the correct positions – a task which is harder than it sounds, requiring memorisation of the complex arrangements.

The app, which is currently only available in Japanese, has been downloaded 42,000 times with hundreds of positive comments from users.

And while these figures are relatively small compared to Japan’s big-hitting apps which are downloaded in their millions, ‘Hinadan’ has proved popular enough that Wakamiya plans to release English, Chinese and possibly French versions of the app before next year’s festival.

Its success has propelled her on to the tech world stage, despite the industry’s reputation for being notoriously ageist

In Silicon Valley, workers in their 40s are considered old by some firms and according to media reports citing research firm Payscale, the median age for an employee at Facebook is 29 and at Apple is 31.

But international tech firms and start-ups are slowly waking up to the economic potential of providing for silver surfers, and Wakamiya has already met with Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook.

Wakamiya recalls: “He asked me what I had done to make sure that older people could use the app. I explained that I’d thought about this in my programming – recognising that older people lose their hearing and eyesight, and their fingers might not work so well.”

“Mr Cook complimented me,” she says proudly, adding that he had hailed her as a “source of inspiration”.

No time for sickness
Wakamiya concedes that she finds “writing lines of code is difficult” but has a voracious appetite to learn more.

“I want to really understand the fundamentals of programming, because at the moment I only learned the elements necessary for creating Hinadan,” she explains.

More than a quarter of Japan’s population is aged 65 and above, and this is projected to rise to 40 percent by 2055. The government is struggling to ensure its population remains active and healthy – and so also see the dynamic octogenarian as an inspiration.

“I would like to see all Japanese elderly people have the same motivation,” one official told AFP.

Wakamiya says her ultimate goal is to come up with “other apps that can entertain older people and help transmit to young people the culture and traditions we old people possess”.

“Most old people have abandoned the idea of learning, but the fact that some are starting (again) is not only good for them but for the country’s economy,” said Wakamiya, who took up the piano at 75.

Hinting that her good health is down to an active mind and busy life, she adds: “I am so busy everyday that I have no time to look for diseases.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Things 3 Is Great at Helping You Get the Job Done

Things 3 Is Great at Helping You Get the Job Done

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Things 3 is a “getting things done” app
  • It’s available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac
  • It’s expensive, but the design is excellent and it works very well

Every single day, we find ourselves saddled with countless small tasks to complete, errands to run, mails to send, and in general — things to do. Almost always, we end up forgetting one thing or another and that wastes a lot of time. We’ve tried a lot of different ways to avoid this — a to-do list in a notebook, basic reminder apps, and even a proper “getting things done” (GTD) app in Todoist.

For various reasons, all of these approaches have failed us eventually. We kept forgetting to write things down in our notebook, Apple’s Reminders app was too basic, and we aren’t big fans of Todoist’s design – or its subscription model. Things weren’t looking good, at least until Cultured Code released Things 3.

Cultured Code’s design prowess is well-known and the company has done a stellar job yet again with Things 3. This writer been using the app on iPhone and Mac for over a month and it’s certainly become a vital part of his life.

When you first fire up Things 3 on any platform, you’re going to notice how clean it looks. You’ll see “Today” or “Upcoming” or the title of your project in a large font size right at the top and all of your tasks below. There’s just the right amount of gap between the heading and your tasks, and between different tasks themselves. It doesn’t feel like these are sticking to each other and it definitely doesn’t feel like there’s a massive chasm between these either.

things 3 iphone projects Things 3

The way Cultured Code has used white space is commendable as it keeps the design from feeling cluttered. Ideally, a GTD app should remind you about pending tasks, but if it’s cluttered it starts to feel intimidating and then we feel there’s a high chance of people abandoning the app altogether. Not with Things 3, where every design choice feels deliberate and tastefully executed.

On the iPhone, Things 3 is a pretty straightforward app. It lets you add tasks, create projects, and you can even use the share sheet to add tasks from other apps. If you’re browsing the Web or watching videos online, you can send the link straight to Things 3 via the share sheet. You can even share your tasks and checklists to other apps.

One of the best features of Things 3 on iPhone is its 3D Touch implementation. If you have an iPhone 6S or a newer iPhone, you can hard press the Things 3 icon hard to reveal a neat widget where you can mark up to two tasks as complete. You can also use 3D Touch to create a new task, jump to the Today page, and jump to Quick Find (for searching within the app).

Things 3 for Mac

We love using Things 3 on iPhone, but the Mac app is where it really shines. Not only have the developers used the extra screen space very well, but they’ve also added a bunch of small features that wouldn’t be possible on iPhone. For instance, pressing Ctrl + option + space in certain apps such as Safari or Mail, opens a Things 3 pop-up with a link to the website or email added. You can quickly add webpages or emails to your to-do list via this shortcut.

things 3 mac logbook Things 3

Similarly, you can use the Ctrl + space shortcut in any app to add a task manually to Things 3. When you set a reminder for a task, the notification stays on your Mac’s screen until you either snooze or dismiss it. We feel any good GTD app should be good at nagging you until you get the job done, and based on our experience of using it to manage work tasks, Things 3 is good at this.

The developers have created neat tutorial projects to familiarise new users with the app and all its features. We found these extremely useful and learned about several advanced features that have now become a part of our daily workflow.

When you mark a task complete, it changes the font colour from black to grey for a couple of seconds, before moving to the the Logbook (where all completed tasks go). This allows you time to uncheck the task if you’ve accidentally marked it complete. When you create a project, the icon is a circle which slowly fills up like a pie chart as you complete tasks under that project. Lots of small touches like this make Things 3’s design feel tastefully designed.

Cultured Code uses its own Things Cloud to sync your tasks across devices. It works just fine and we had no issues whatsoever with syncing tasks and projects across devices.

things 3 mac quick entry Things 3

At the moment, Things 3 doesn’t let you attach images or other files to your tasks. This feature would allow us to attach screenshots or important documents to our tasks, which would help a lot while researching for stories.

It also doesn’t allow you to create repeating reminders on an hourly basis. You can create daily, weekly, or monthly repeating reminders but not hourly ones. That makes it less useful if you want to set reminders for drinking water or to remind yourself to stop working nonstop and take a break.

Things 3 is not for everyone. It’s available only on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. You need to buy it separately on iPhone (Rs. 800), iPad (Rs. 1,600), and Mac (Rs. 4,000), so it’s definitely not cheap. But if you value good design and you need a GTD app for your Apple devices, Things 3 is an absolute must-have.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]