Award-winning Pakistani journalist escapes kidnap attempt

Taha Siddiqui, the Pakistani bureau chief of Indian television channel WION, had previously complained of being harassed by authorities for publishing bold critiques of Pakistan’s security establishment. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2018
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Award-winning Pakistani journalist escapes kidnap attempt

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani journalist known for criticizing the powerful military said he had escaped an abduction attempt after being assaulted by armed men in Islamabad Wednesday, in the latest case involving forced disappearances in the turbulent country.
Taha Siddiqui, who won France’s highest journalism award the Albert Londres prize in 2014, said he was attacked by up to a dozen men en route to the airport in Rawalpindi but managed to escape before being kidnapped, suffering minor injuries during the scuffle.
“Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances,” wrote Siddiqui in a tweet posted on a fellow journalist’s account.


Siddiqui, the Pakistani bureau chief of Indian television channel WION and who has reported for France 24, had previously complained of being harassed by authorities for publishing bold critiques of the country’s security establishment.
Human rights and media groups voiced concern over the incident, saying the use of violence against journalists was troubling.
“This is extremely worrying and reinforces the fear that human rights groups and media organizations have voiced for a while now that the Pakistan government views violence as an instrument of dealing with dissenting voices,” Human Rights Watch country representative Saroop Ijaz said.
“This is also a reflection of the impunity that has existed for a long time, and has been increasing recently,” he said.
The Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists said it had contacted Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal “to direct the concerned officials to investigate the incident of attempted kidnapping of a senior journalist.”
The attack comes months after prominent reporter Ahmed Noorani was also savagely beaten and stabbed in the head after being dragged out of his car in Islamabad by armed assailants.
Pakistan has a long history of enforced disappearances, particularly in conflict zones near the border with Afghanistan, or in restive southwestern Balochistan province.
The country routinely ranks among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers, and reporting critical of the powerful military is considered a red flag, with reporters at times detained, beaten and even killed for running afoul of the security establishment.


Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

Updated 20 October 2018
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Google to charge Android partners up to $40 per device for apps

  • The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers
  • The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size

BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will charge hardware firms up to $40 per device to use its apps under a new licensing system to replace one that the European Union this year deemed anti-competitive, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The new fee goes into effect on Oct. 29 for any new smartphone or tablet models launched in the European Economic Area and running Google’s Android operating system, the company announced on Tuesday.
The fee can be as low as $2.50 and rises depending on the country and device size, the person said. It is standard across manufacturers, with the majority likely to pay around $20, the person added.
Companies can offset the charge, which applies to a suite of apps including the Google Play app store, Gmail and Google Maps, by placing Google’s search and Chrome Internet browser in a prominent position. Under that arrangement, Google would give the device maker a portion of ad revenue it generates through search and Chrome.
Tech news outlet the Verge reported the pricing earlier on Friday, citing confidential documents.
The European Commission in July found Google abused its market dominance in mobile software to essentially force Android partners to pre-install search and Chrome on their gadgets. It levied a record $5-billion fine, which Google has appealed, and threatened additional penalties unless the company ended its illegal practices.
The new system should give Google’s rivals such as Microsoft Corp. more room to partner with hardware makers to become the default apps for search and browsing, analysts said.
Qwant, a small French search company that has been critical of Google, said in a statement on Friday that it was “satisfied that the European Commission’s action pushed Google to finally give manufacturers the possibility to offer such choices to consumers.”