First 5 things you should do with the OnePlus 5

So you’ve taken the plunge and bought yourself a OnePlus 5: congratulations. Once you’re done running your hands over that lovely metal finish, what should you do next? As with most OnePlus phones, the OnePlus 5 has a lot to offer if you know where to look. So here are the first five things you should do with your new OnePlus 5 to get the most of out it.

Set up the fingerprint sensor

This one’s a gimme really. You’ll be prompted to set up the OnePlus 5 fingerprint scanner during initial setup, but if you skipped that step in your rush to have a play around the software, be sure to go back and register your digits.

The OnePlus 5 fingerprint scanner is crazy fast and accurate, making unlocking your phone a breeze. It’s even located in a logical place. The scratch-resistant ceramic scanner doubles as a home button when using the capacitive keys but can still be used to unlock your phone if you switch to on-screen navigation buttons.

Remember, each digit you register slows down the unlocking process, but you can always mix and match two different fingers in one fingerprint scan and (usually) not lose any accuracy. Give it a shot and if you don’t like the results, just register separate fingerprints, but only as many as you actually plan to use. Just go to Settings > Security & fingerprint > Add fingerprint.

Enable dark mode

Don’t forget that, unlike many Android phones, OnePlus has full support for a system-wide dark theme. The fact that the OnePlus 5 has an AMOLED screen means you should strongly consider switching to the dark theme as your default, right out of the box.

That’s because AMOLED displays can actually save some battery life by using dark backgrounds and themes. Black pixels on an OLED display are actually turned off, unlike black pixels on an LCD panel, which are still backlit. The fewer pixels requiring power, the longer your battery will last. Plus it looks the business because OLED screens have great contrast and inky blacks. Just go to Settings > Display > Theme > Default/light/dark.

Set up gestures

Off-screen gestures are nothing new, but, just like double tap to wake, they’re incredibly useful to know. It’s just that it can be pretty easy to forget they’re on your phone unless you’re actively using them. Learning all the shortcuts the OnePlus 5 offers doesn’t take long, but making use of them will really speed up your experience and add to your enjoyment.

Some are enabled by default, while others will need to be switched on or set up. There’s double tap to wake, a camera shortcut (just double press the power button), or you can draw letters when the screen is off to launch an app or start the flashlight. The best thing of all is that these are fully customizable, just go to Settings > Gestures to set them all set up.

Enable battery percentage in the status bar

Really. This is super useful because you can quickly glance at your status bar rather than having to take a guess or pull down the notifications shade to see what battery percentage you have left. Just head to Settings > Status bar > Show battery percentage.

Set vibration intensity setting

OnePlus’ previous phones had horrible vibration motors, but that has now been fixed in the OnePlus 5. Not only that but you now have the option to tweak the intensity to exactly how you like it (light/medium/strong) for incoming calls, notifications and for general interactions like typing on the keyboard or pressing the capacitive keys.

Remember that while the stronger the intensity of the vibration (and the more places it is used) the greater the drain on your battery, haptic feedback barely consumes any power. Just jump into Settings > Sound & vibration > Vibration intensity > Incoming call/notifications/vibrate on tap to set it up. Don’t forget to use the Alert Slider to quickly and easily switch between your various sound profiles too.

What’s the first thing you did with your OnePlus 5? What else should new owners do?

[“Source-androidauthority”]

California ‘bombogenesis’ storm pushes north

Vehicles trying to negotiate flooded Interstate 5 in Williams, north California, where more rain is expected

A fierce storm, dubbed “bombogenesis” or “weather bomb”, has eased in southern California, while pressing on further north in the US state.

Torrential rain, flash floods and mud slides wreaked havoc on Friday and early Saturday, killing at least five people.

Metrologists said it was the worst storm to hit California in years.

Forecasters warned residents in the north, including San Francisco, to expect more heavy rain on Sunday.

Meteorologists described the storm as “bombogenesis”, an intense extra-tropical cyclonic low-pressure area, or “a weather bomb”.

A fire engine being recovered close to Los Angeles after part of a freeway collapsed from the heavy rain

One man was killed after a tree fell and pulled a power line on to his car in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles.

A second person died in a vehicle when it was submerged by a flash flood in the town of Victorville.

Two others died in car accidents in the San Diego area, and another person was found dead after being swept into a creek in Ventura County.

Evacuation orders were lifted in the towns of Duarte on Saturday afternoon (local time).

The north of the state has already experienced fears of flooding at the tallest dam in the country, Oroville Dam, when more than 180,000 residents were evacuated from their homes last week.

Authorities at the dam have been working to lower the level of the lake and have said it has continued to fall despite the storm.

[Source:-BBC]

Iraqi forces launch large-scale push to retake western Mosul from ISIS

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2016 file photo, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq.

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces launched a large-scale military operation on Sunday to retake the western half of Mosul and dislodge Islamic State militants. It is the latest phase in a 4-month-old offensive to retake Iraq’s second largest city.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the operation on state TV, saying government forces were moving to “liberate the people of Mosul from Daesh oppression and terrorism forever,” using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. He called on security forces to deal with civilians properly and to respect human rights.

Iraqi forces declared eastern Mosul “fully liberated” last month, however ISIS militants continued to launch attacks there. Hours after the latest operation was announced, suicide bombers struck troops and pro-government Sunni militiamen in eastern Mosul.

“ISIS’s cruelty, brutality and reach show they are not just a threat in Iraq and Syria, but to the region and the entire world,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, in a statement.

Plumes of smoke were seen rising into the sky early Sunday morning as U.S.-led coalition jets struck militant positions southwest of Mosul and militarized Iraqi police fired artillery toward the city. Heavily armed police units were getting ready to move north with their armored vehicles from a base just southwest of the city.

“This is zero hour and we are going to end this war, God willing,” said Mahmoud Mansour, a police officer, as he prepared to move out.

The battle for western Mosul promises to be the most daunting yet, as the half of the city west of the Tigris River has older, narrower streets and is still home to hundreds of thousands of civilians, who have been told to shelter in place.

“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” said Townsend. “They have taken the fight to the enemy and sacrificed their blood for the people of Iraq and the rest of the world.”

The immediate objective was to take the villages on the southern outskirts of Mosul airport, a police spokesman told The Associated Press. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

Police units quickly moved into the village of Athba, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) southwest of the airport, encountering only light resistance, according to an AP reporter traveling with them. Separately, the army’s 9th Division moved into the village of Bakhira, also southwest of the city, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense said.

The United Nations meanwhile warned that hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped inside their houses “are at extreme risk,” with dwindling fuel and food supplies and scare drinking water and electricity.

“The situation is distressing. People, right now, are in trouble,” Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement. “We are hearing reports of parents struggling to feed their children and to heat their homes,” Grande said.

Citing witnesses in western Mosul, the U.N. said nearly half of all food shops were closed and bakeries had shut down due to a lack of fuel and an inability to purchase costly flour. Prices of kerosene and cooking gas have skyrocketed, and many of the most destitute families are burning wood, furniture, plastic or garbage for cooking and heating.

“Three out of five people now depend on untreated water from wells for cooking and drinking as water systems and treatment plants have been damaged by fighting or run out of chlorine,” said Peter Hawkins, of the U.N. agency for children.

The humanitarian agencies were gearing up to aid 250,000 to 400,000 civilians who may flee due to fighting, the statement said. The U.N. estimates that about 750,000 civilians may be left in western Mosul.

Iraqi forces spent three months driving ISIS from eastern Mosul, but the militants appear to have left sleeper cells to carry out attacks behind the front lines.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, an Iraqi military spokesman, said a suicide bomber set off struck a patrol of Sunni tribal fighters in Zihoor neighborhood, while another targeted Iraqi troops in Nabi Younis.

Rasool declined to provide casualty figures. Two policemen said one Sunni fighter was killed and nine wounded in the first attack, while the second attack wounded five soldiers. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

Iraqi special operations forces, regular army and federal police units are taking part in the offensive along with government-approved paramilitary forces, mainly consisting of Shiite militias, which are operating on the city’s outskirts.

Mosul fell to ISIS in the summer of 2014, along with large swaths of northern and western Iraq. It is the extremist group’s last major urban bastion in Iraq.

[Source:-Fox news]

Mosul assault: Iraq troops make headway against IS

Members of the Iraqi rapid response forces fire a missile toward Islamic State militants during a battle in south of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017

Iraqi government forces have seized several villages as they move towards an assault on the last area held by the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Mosul.

Hundreds of military vehicles, backed by air power, rolled across the desert towards IS positions early on Sunday.

The progress on Sunday in the south of the city, the second biggest in Iraq, takes them within striking distance of Mosul airport.

Fears have been voiced about the safety of many thousands of trapped civilians.

The offensive was formally announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi early on Sunday.

Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement that elite Rapid Response units captured the villages of Athbah and Al-Lazzagah – two villages south of Mosul airport.

Attack on west Mosul: Day one in pictures

Government forces retook the eastern side of the city, the last major IS stronghold in Iraq, last month. But military officials say the western side, with its narrow, winding streets, may prove a bigger challenge.

For now, there is no advance from eastern Mosul as all bridges from there to the west of the city, across the Tigris river, have been destroyed.

Map of Mosul city showing areas of control

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led coalition forces, said in a statement on Sunday: “Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world.”

Special forces units safely detonated a number of IS car bombs as they cleared villages south of Mosul, according to the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded with the troops.

As well as primed car bombs, the jihadists left behind SIM cards, clothes, instant coffee and weapons as they retreated.

  • Photos show ‘weaponised drones’ in Iraq
  • Satellite images reveal Mosul damage
  • Iraq gaining momentum against IS
  • Islamic State group: The full story
A hidden and still live car bomb found in a village homeImage copyrightQUENTIN SOMMERVILLE/BBC
Image captionA hidden and still live car bomb found in a village home

The UN has voiced concern about civilians trapped there, amid reports that they could number up to 650,000. Leaflets warning residents of an imminent offensive were earlier dropped over the west of the city.

Charity Save the Children said on Sunday it believed that as many as 350,000 children were trapped.

“This is the grim choice for children in western Mosul right now: bombs, crossfire and hunger if they stay; or execution and snipers if they try to run,” said the charity’s Iraq country director, Maurizio Crivallero.


The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville is embedded with the Emergency Response Division special forces troops near Mosul

The assault began just after dawn, after days of coalition air strikes, with hundreds of armoured vehicles, thousands of men, and support from helicopter gunships.

The men of Iraq’s Emergency Response Division, police special forces are leading the attack. Their targets are three IS held villages to the south of west Mosul. They are trying to gain the high ground from IS, which will give them sight of the city’s airport and its southern edge.

The government forces made quick gains but have been slowed as they begin to take villages. There are no signs of any civilians. Heavy machine gunfire, rockets and artillery fire are constant.

For the first time in nearly three years, the Iraqi flag is again flying over the south of western Mosul.

Soldiers rest during the offensive in southern MosulImage copyrightQUENTIN SOMMERVILLE/BBC
Image captionSoldiers rest during the offensive in southern Mosul
Iraqi troops near MosulImage copyrightQUENTIN SOMMERVILLE/BBC
Image captionA soldier looks out over the desert as the offensive begins

Follow Quentin Sommerville on Twitter


Iraqi forces have now all but surrounded the western part of Mosul, while the US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes on IS targets.

Ahead of the launch of the operation, Mr Abadi said in a televised speech: “We announce the start of a new phase in the operation, we are coming to Nineveh to liberate the western side of Mosul.”

“Our forces are beginning the liberation of the citizens from the terror of Daesh [IS],” he added, quoted by AFP news agency.

Quentin tweet
Quentin Sommerville tweet that reads:
Quentin Sommerville tweet that reads:

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, told the BBC on Saturday that “all of the parties to the conflict do absolutely everything they can to ensure that civilians survive the battle, and that they live”.

“Absolutely nothing is more important going into the campaign to retake western Mosul,” she added.

As the advance got under way, the UN commissioner for human rights called on the Iraqi government to investigate videos shared on social media that appeared to show Iraqi troops brutally abusing and executing IS fighters on the streets of east Mosul late last year.

The videos have not been verified at this stage by any government authority or independent group. The Iraqi prime minister’s office said it had launched an investigation.

The offensive on the eastern part of the city was launched on 17 October, more than two years after jihadists overran Mosul before seizing control of much of northern and western Iraq.

Experts warn that western Mosul, although slightly smaller than the east, is more densely populated and includes districts that are seen as pro-IS.

The UN said in late January that almost half of all the casualties in Mosul were civilians. At least 1,096 have been killed and 694 injured across Nineveh province since the start of October.

[Source:-BBC]

Winston Churchill’s views on aliens revealed in lost essay

Winston Churchill

A newly unearthed essay by Winston Churchill reveals he was open to the possibility of life on other planets.

In 1939, the year World War Two broke out, Churchill penned a popular science article in which he mused about the likelihood of extra-terrestrial life.

The 11-page typed draft, probably intended for a newspaper, was updated in the 1950s but never published.

In the 1980s, the essay was passed to a US museum, where it sat until its rediscovery last year.

The document was uncovered in the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, by the institution’s new director Timothy Riley. Mr Riley then passed it to the Israeli astrophysicist and author Mario Livio who describes the contents in the latest issue of Nature journal.

Churchill’s interest in science is well-known: he was the first British prime minister to employ a science adviser, Frederick Lindemann, and met regularly with scientists such as Sir Bernard Lovell, a pioneer of radio astronomy.

This documented engagement with the scientific community was partly related to the war effort, but he is credited with funding UK laboratories, telescopes and technology development that spawned post-war discoveries in fields from molecular genetics to X-ray crystallography.

The Tizard Mission: Start of a special relationship?

ExoplanetImage copyrightNASA
Image captionIn the essay, Churchill outlines the concept of habitable zones – more than 50 years before the discovery of exoplanets

Despite this background, Dr Livio described the discovery of the essay as a “great surprise”.

He told the BBC’s Inside Science programme: “[Mr Riley] said, ‘I would like you to take a look at something.’ He gave me a copy of this essay by Churchill. I saw the title, Are We Alone in the Universe? and I said, ‘What? Churchill wrote about something like this?'”

Dr Livio says the wartime leader reasoned like a scientist about the likelihood of life on other planets.

Churchill’s thinking mirrors many modern arguments in astrobiology – the study of the potential for life on other planets. In his essay, the former prime minister builds on the Copernican Principle – the idea that human life on Earth shouldn’t be unique given the vastness of the Universe.

Churchill defined life as the ability to “breed and multiply” and noted the vital importance of liquid water, explaining: “all living things of the type we know require [it].”

More than 50 years before the discovery of exoplanets, he considered the likelihood that other stars would host planets, concluding that a large fraction of these distant worlds “will be the right size to keep on their surface water and possibly an atmosphere of some sort”. He also surmised that some would be “at the proper distance from their parent sun to maintain a suitable temperature”.

Churchill also outlined what scientists now describe as the “habitable” or “Goldilocks” zone – the narrow region around a star where it is neither too hot nor too cold for life.

Radar operator, 1945Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionChurchill supported the development of game-changing technologies such as radar

Correctly, the essay predicts great opportunities for exploration of the Solar System.

“One day, possibly even in the not very distant future, it may be possible to travel to the Moon, or even to Venus and Mars,” Churchill wrote.

But the politician concluded that Venus and Earth were the only places in the Solar System capable of hosting life, whereas we now know that icy moons around Jupiter and Saturn are promising targets in the search for extra-terrestrial biology. However, such observations are forgivable given scientific knowledge at the time of writing.

In an apparent reference to the troubling events unfolding in Europe, Churchill wrote: “I for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilisation here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time.”

Churchill was a prolific writer: in the 1920s and 30s, he penned popular science essays on topics as diverse as evolution and fusion power. Mr Riley, director of the Churchill Museum, believes the essay on alien life was written at the former prime minister’s home in Chartwell in 1939, before World War II broke out.

It may have been informed by conversations with the wartime leader’s friend, Lindemann, who was a physicist, and might have been intended for publication in the News of the World newspaper.

It was also written soon after the 1938 US radio broadcast by Orson Welles dramatising The War of the Worlds by HG Wells. The radio programme sparked a panic when it was mistaken by some listeners for a real news report about the invasion of Earth by Martians.

Dr Livio told BBC News that there were no firm plans to publish the article because of issues surrounding the copyright. However, he said the Churchill Museum was working to resolve these so that the historically important essay can eventually see the light of day.

[Source:-BBC]

Dominican Republic: Two radio journalists shot dead mid-broadcast

A Dominican policeman guarding the FM 103.5 radio station after the murders

Three men have been arrested after two journalists were killed during a live radio broadcast in the Dominican Republic.

One of the journalists was filming his show on Facebook Live when he was shot.

The footage showed his broadcast interrupted by gunfire and a panicked woman shouting “Shots! Shots! Shots!”.

Police said the shooting happened on Tuesday in San Pedro de Macoris, east of the capital Santo Domingo.

The two journalists killed were presenter Luis Manuel Medina and radio producer Leo Martinez.Family and friends mourn two murdered radio journalists in the Dominican Republic

A woman was also injured and is undergoing surgery, said local authorities.

The arrested men have not been charged and police say they do not know the motive.

“The investigations have begun and we will try, with all the means in our powers, to reach the truth,” Attorney General Jean Rodriguez told the local press.

In August 2015, two US journalists were shot dead during a live TV report in Virginia.

[Source:-BBC]

Russia denies breaking treaty after alleged missile deployment

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia has denied violating a Cold War-era missiles treaty, following accusations by officials in US President Donald Trump’s administration.

The unnamed US officials said that Russia had deployed a banned cruise missile.

A Kremlin spokesperson said on Wednesday that Russia continued to uphold its international commitments.

The US state department has made no official comment.

The alleged deployment is expected to be discussed during Wednesday’s Nato meeting in Brussels, the first since President Trump took office.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he would not comment on intelligence reports but added that any non-compliance from Russia on the arms control treaty would be a “serious concern for the alliance”.

The Brussels meeting will be attended by US Defence Secretary James Mattis.

“Nobody has formally accused Russia of violating the treaty,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a press briefing.

“Russia has been and remains committed to its international commitments, including to the treaty in question,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former US President Barack ObamaImage copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Putin and ex-President Barack Obama had diplomatic run-ins over the missiles treaty

A New York Times report, citing administration officials, said that the Russians now have two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile.

Republican Senator John McCain responded to the missile allegation with a statement calling on the Trump administration to enhance US nuclear deterrents in Europe.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “testing” Mr Trump.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was first signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1987.

It bans the use of ground-based, intermediate-range or short-range missiles by Russia or the US.

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signing the INF treaty in 1987Image copyrightAFP
Image captionSoviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signing the INF treaty in 1987

Russia has been accused of violating the treaty before, including under the Obama administration.

In 2014, the US accused the Russians of developing and testing cruise missiles.

Mr Putin has also previously said that the treaty no longer serves Russia’s interests, and it is unfair as it does not apply to other countries that have since developed missiles within the same range.

The US relationship with Russia remains under intense scrutiny, after General Michael Flynn resigned as the president’s national security adviser on Tuesday.

Mr Flynn quit on Monday over claims he discussed US sanctions with Russia before Donald Trump took office. Private citizens are not allowed to conduct US diplomacy.

[Source:-BBC]

Trump relaxes US policy on Middle East two-state solution

US President Donald Trump has dropped decades of US policy that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved by a two-state solution.

At a news conference with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Trump promised to deliver a “great” peace deal, but said both sides must compromise.

The Israelis and Palestinians have had no substantive peace talks since 2014.

In the conference, Mr Trump also asked his visitor to “hold off” on settlement building for “a little bit”.

Israel has approved thousands of new homes in West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements since Mr Trump took office last month.

Embassy issue

The Israeli government is hoping for better relations with the White House after eight years of friction with the former Obama administration.

At Wednesday’s press conference, neither leader committed explicitly to back a future independent Palestine, a longstanding bedrock of US policy.

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What is the two-state solution?

A “two-state solution” to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the declared goal of their leaders and the international community.

It is the shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent state of Palestine within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel.

The UN, the Arab League, the European Union, Russia and, until now, the US routinely restate their commitment to the concept.

Reconsidering the two-state solution

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“So I’m looking at two states and one state,” said Mr Trump. “And I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.

“I can live with either one. I thought for a while that two states looked like it may be the easier of the two.

“To be honest, if Bibi [Mr Netanyahu] and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy – I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

He said it would ultimately be up to the parties themselves to reach a peace agreement.

Mr Trump was also asked about his election promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which could have serious implications for any peace negotiations.

“As far as the embassy moving to Jerusalem, I’d love to see that happen,” Mr Trump said.

“And we’re looking at it very, very strongly. We’re looking at it with a great care, a great care, believe me. And we’ll see what happens.”

When he was asked about a two-state solution, Mr Netanyahu said he wanted to focus on “substance” and not “labels”.

“There are two prerequisites for peace,” said the Israeli prime minister. “First the Palestinians must recognise the Jewish state.

“Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.”

Palestinians’ warning

It was the two leaders’ first face-to-face meeting since Mr Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election.

A retreat from US backing for a two-state solution would upend decades of American – and international – policy embraced by Republican and Democratic administrations.

A Palestinian holds the Palestinian flag during a protest in the West Bank village of Twani, near Hebron, 10 February 2017.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThe idea of creating an independent Palestinian state that co-exists with Israel has underpinned Middle East peace policy for decades

On Tuesday, a senior White House official signalled a potential policy shift by saying peace did not necessarily have to entail Palestinian statehood, and that Mr Trump would not try to “dictate” a solution.

The report alarmed Palestinians, who urged the White House not to abandon the goal of an independent Palestinian nation.

“If the Trump administration rejects this policy it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said in response to the US official’s remarks.

“Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy.”

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land Palestinians claim for a future state.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

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Travelling with Netanyahu – Gidi Kleiman, BBC Middle East producer

A relatively large group of journalists followed Mr Netanyahu from Israel to cover his first meeting with President Trump. A lot was at stake, especially after the eight years of the strained relations with the Obama administration.

Ahead of the meeting, the general sentiment among them concerned the lack of clarity on how the meeting between the two leaders would go. Whether they will get along and mostly what will be said on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two-state solution, a formula which has been a long-term tenet of US and Israeli policy.

Waiting in the East Room for the press conference, journalists were filing reports, posting on social media and also getting their selfies taken with White House insignias. So did Israeli officials.

The two leaders entered the room, and as very warm words were exchanged, it looked like the turning of a page in the relationship between the two countries.

But perhaps it was also another turning point, departing from the two-state solution formula, a term they avoided using. Their confidence gave the impression that some sort of regional deal is perhaps already being explored with moderate Arab countries. The journalists were left guessing how this will play out or, as Trump put it, “we will see”.

[Source:-BBC]

Why is Turkey holding a referendum?

In one brawl, a government MP alleged an opponent bit into his leg. In another, a plant pot was hurled across parliament. A microphone was stolen and used as a weapon. An independent MP handcuffed herself to a lectern, sparking another scuffle. The parliamentary debate on changing Turkey’s constitution wasn’t a mild affair.

On the surface, it might seem a proposal that would enjoy cross-party consensus: modernising Turkey’s constitution that was drawn up at the behest of the once-omnipotent military after the coup of 1980.

But instead it’s arguably the most controversial political change in a generation, becoming in effect a referendum on the country’s powerful but divisive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The plan would turn Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential republic, more akin to the United States. Among the numerous changes:

  • The role of prime minister would be scrapped. The new post of vice president, possibly two or three, would be created.
  • The president would become the head of the executive, as well as the head of state, and retain ties to a political party.
  • He or she would be given sweeping new powers to appoint ministers, approve the budget, choose the majority of supreme and constitutional court judges and enact certain laws by decree.
  • The president alone would be able to announce a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
  • Parliament would lose its right to scrutinise ministers or propose an enquiry. However, it would be able to begin impeachment proceedings or investigate the president with a majority vote by MPs. Putting the president on trial would require a two-thirds majority.
  • The number of MPs would increase from 550 to 600.
  • Presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on the same day every five years. The president would be limited to two terms.

The government – and, principally, President Erdogan – argue that the reforms would streamline decision-making and avoid the unwieldy parliamentary coalitions that have hamstrung Turkey in the past.

Since the president is no longer chosen by parliament but now elected directly by the people, goes the argument, he or she should not have to contend with another elected leader (the prime minister) to enact laws.

The current system is, they say, holding back Turkey’s progress. They even argue that the change could somehow end the extremist attacks that have killed more than 500 people in the past 18 months.

A woman lays flowers by a makeshift memorial in front of the Reina nightclub in IstanbulImage copyrightOZAN KOSE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionHundreds of people have been killed in attacks in Turkey in the past 18 months

A presidential system is all very well in a country with proper checks and balances like the United States, retort critics, where an independent judiciary has shown itself willing to stand up to Donald Trump and a rigorous free press calls him out on contentious policies.

But in Turkey, where judicial independence has plummeted and which now ranks 151 of 180 countries in the press freedom index of the watchdog Reporters Without Borders, an all-powerful president would spell the death knell of democracy, they say.

  • Profile: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s dominant president
  • ‘Open, police!’: The day a Turkish writer’s life changed

Mr Erdogan’s opponents already decry his slide to authoritarianism, presiding over the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and a country where some 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended since the failed coup last year. Granting him virtually unfettered powers, says the main opposition CHP, would “entrench dictatorship”.

“The jury is out,” says Ahmet Kasim Han, a political scientist from Kadir Has University. “It doesn’t look as bad as the opposition paints it and it’s definitely not as benevolent as the government depicts it. The real weakness is that in its hurry to pass the reform, the government hasn’t really explained the 2,000 laws that would change. So it doesn’t look bright, especially with this government’s track record.”

A boy wearing a Turkish flag in a show of loyalty to the state following the failed coup attempt in July 2015Image copyrightBURAK KARA/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionSince the failed coup 140,000 people have been arrested, dismissed or suspended from their jobs

The governing AK Party had to rely on parliamentary votes from the far-right MHP to lead the country to a referendum. For long, the MHP leader, Devlet Bahceli, opposed the presidential system: “The Turkish nation has never allowed a Hitler,” he once said, “and it will not allow Erdogan to get away with this,” calling it the recipe for “a sultanate without a throne”.

But arm-twisting and rumours that he could be offered one of the vice presidential posts has prompted a spectacular U-turn. The question now is whether he can persuade his party to follow. The party’s deputy chairman and several local MHP officials have already resigned over Mr Bahceli’s stance.

“It seems this is not going Bahceli’s way,” says Dr Kasim Han. “But the naysayers may not feel able to go against the party culture by contradicting the leader.”

Opposition to the reform is led by the centre-left CHP and the pro-Kurdish HDP parties, the latter of which has been portrayed by the government as linked to terrorism. Several of its MPs and the party leaders are now in prison.

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of opposition Nationalist Movement Party, attends the parliamentary session for the debates on a new draft constitution at the Turkish Grand National Assembly
Image copyrightADEM ALTAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionDevlet Bahceli, leader of the far right MHP, now supports the proposed constitutional changes

AKP and MHP voters who oppose the reform may feel pressured into voting in favour, so as not to be tarnished as supporting “terrorists”, especially since the referendum will take place under the state of emergency imposed after the attempted coup.

“Holding the vote under this state of emergency makes it susceptible to allegations that people don’t feel free to say no,” says Dr Kasim Han. “It casts a shadow over the outcome.”

Polling has been contradictory and Turkish opinion pollsters are notoriously politicised. But all signs point to a very tight race.

With the detail of the constitutional reform impenetrable to many, the referendum has become focused around Mr Erdogan himself: a president who elicits utmost reverence from one side of the country and intense hatred from the other.

The decision as to whether to grant him the powers he’s long coveted will determine the political fate of this deeply troubled but hugely important country.

[Source:-BBC]

How Americans Encounter, Recall and Act Upon Digital News

Anyone who wants to understand today’s news environment faces a challenge: How to discern the nuances of digital news habits when Americans’ attention spans are fractured, human memory is naturally limited and news comes at them every which way.

To tackle this complex question, Pew Research Center, in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, took on the unusual task of staying in touch with more than 2,000 U.S. adults who get at least some news online over the course of a week. The study ran from Feb. 24 to March 1, 2016. Respondents were asked twice a day whether they got news online within the past two hours and, if so, were asked about their experience with that news. This technique was used to improve the chances that respondents would be able to accurately recall their recent news interactions and allowed researchers to ask about sources and behaviors with a high level of detail. This amounted to up to 14 completed surveys per person for a total of 25,602 interviews – 13,086 of which included online news consumption.

While there are a number of pathways Americans use to get news online, two in this study stand out as the most common: social media and direct visits to news organizations’ websites. When asked how they arrived at news content in their most recent web interaction, online news consumers were about equally likely to get news by going directly to a news website (36% of the times they got news, on average) as getting it through social media (35%). They were less likely to access news through emails, text messages or search engines. And most people favored one pathway over another. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of online news consumers had one preferred pathway for getting most of their online news.

The study also sheds light on whether people are actually aware of the sources of news they consume – a question all the more relevant in light of the prevalence of fabricated news stories during the final weeks of the 2016 election. It reveals that when consumers click on a link to get to news, they can often recall the news source’s name. Individuals who said they followed a link to a news story were asked if they could write down the name of the news outlet they landed on. On average, they provided a name 56% of the time. But they were far more able to do so when that link came directly from a news organization – such as through an email or text alert from the news organization itself – than when it came from social media or an email or text from a friend. It was also the case that 10% of consumers, when asked to name the source of the news, wrote in “Facebook” as a specific news outlet.

Another critical issue facing the industry is identifying which news experiences tend to inspire follow-up actions such as sharing, searching for more information or talking about it with others. This study suggests differences based on both the pathway used to get the news and the topic of news itself. Among the five pathways studied, news instances spurred by emails and texts from friends or family elicited the most activity; nearly three-quarters (73%) of these instances were acted upon in some way. That outpaced even social media and direct visits to a news organization’s website, where a follow-up action occurred in about half of news instances (53% and 47%, respectively). Overall, talking with someone offline, whether in person or over the phone, was the most common action taken with digital news.

As for the topic of the news, community and health news spurred follow-up action about two-thirds of the time, while entertainment, sports and business news did so only about half the time. The type of follow-up action taken also varied with news topic. Stories about community affairs stand out for their social nature and were shared via social media at a far higher rate than any other topic. Science news, on the other hand, was bookmarked or saved for later or sent to someone via email or text at a higher rate than most other topics. Still, for all pathways and topics studied, speaking with someone offline about the news rises to the top.

It is important to keep in mind that this is self-reported data, and activities even as recent as the last two hours can be hard for some people to recall. At the same time, though, while a repeated survey like this can make people more aware of their online activities, little evidence of this emerged. This unique approach provides a deeper and more tangible window into how Americans learn about current events in the digital age, and speaks to some of the challenges news organizations have in establishing a relationship with digital audiences.

Other interesting patterns that emerged include the following:

  • Just as individuals tend to favor one digital pathway over others, certain topics in the news are more likely to be learned about through one method over another. Business and finance news, for example, is more likely to be accessed by going directly to a news website. About half of business and finance news instances (53%) occurred through an individual going directly to a news website or app, compared with just 12% that came through social media. Community news, on the other hand, was much more likely to be discovered through social media (53%) than on a news website (22%).
  • Social media, search engines and friends’ emails and texts all succeed in engaging news consumers within the bounds of each venue. About a quarter (23%) of the instances in which news came through a search engine resulted in searches for additional information, a higher share than any other pathway. Similarly, 14% of news instances from friends or family led to sending news via email or text, compared with 5% or less of the instances from any other pathway. And when people got news through social media, they went on to re-share that news on social media one out of four times. On the other hand, no single digital action stands out for news that came from a direct connection with a news organization.
  • Younger and older online news consumers follow news links at the same rate, but younger adults are less likely to remember the source. When 18- to 29-year-old online news consumers clicked on news links, they remembered the source about half the time (47%), at least 10 percentage points less than their elders (57% for 30- to 49-year-olds and 61% for those 50 and older). And these younger online news consumers got their news through social media 47% of the time on average, about double the rate of those 50 and older (23%), and about on par with those ages 30 to 49 (42%). Those 50 and older, on the other hand, stand out for their heavier reliance on news organizations’ emails, texts and alerts.

    Details of the study

    Over the course of one week (Feb. 24 to March 1, 2016), a nationally representative sample of online news consumers received two short surveys per day (14 total) asking about the news they got online, if any, in the past two hours.

    The respondent pool comes from a survey conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, among 4,654 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel. In this February survey, those who indicated that they get news digitally (on a desktop or laptop computer or mobile device) were asked to participate in a weeklong study of their online news consumption. Of these individuals, 3,827 agreed to participate.

    A total of 2,078 respondents completed at least 10 of the 14 mini-surveys during the week, of which 2,004 said that they got news online in at least one survey. These respondents are representative of online news consumers in a given week.

    The survey

    Example response

    Jennifer, our example online

    news consumer, took her first

    survey on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

    When answering, she was asked

    to think about the past two hours.

    Below is what each of the 14 short surveys looked like over the

    course of the week

    Did you get any online news on the following topics in the past two hours? If so, this was a news instance.

    In the past two hours, Jennifer got news on politics, science, and entertainment. This was a news instance – sometimes referred to as one of the times she got news.

    1

    EXAMPLES OF TOPICS:

    Government and politics, people and events in your community, business and finance

    Which topic did you get all or most of your news about?

    This is the main news topic.

    She got most of her news about science, so that was her main topic.

    2

    How did you access your news on that main topic?

    This is the pathway used.

    She got this news from a social networking site. This was the pathway.

    3

    EXAMPLES OF PATHWAYS:

    A news organization’s website or app, search engines, social networking sites

    4

    She got to this news by clicking on
    a link from social media, but did not remember the news outlet.

    If you got news by clicking on a link from social media, emails or text messages, do you remember the name of the outlet that the link led to?

    Respondents could write down the name of up to 3 outlets, or could indicate that they did not remember

    5

    Did you seek out this news, happen upon it while doing something else online, or find it while already getting other news?

    She happened upon this news
    while doing other things online.

    Did you follow up on this news by taking any actions?

    She followed up on this news with two actions. She spoke with someone about that news in person, and commented on that news on social media.

    6

    EXAMPLES OF ACTIONS:

    Spoke with someone about the news, sent an article, shared it on social media, bookmarked it

    PEW RESEARCH CENTER

    The structure of this study allows for analyses at two different levels:

    1. Online news consumer level: Average behavior of the 2,004 online news consumers surveyed over the course of the week. For example, the report looks at how often, on average, consumers got news by going directly to a news website versus getting it through social media.
    2. Instance level: The characteristics of the 13,086 total news instances that occurred during the week studied. For example, the report looks at whether news accessed through social media is more likely to be acted upon than news from a news organization’s website.

    The report is divided accordingly into these two distinct parts, and the relevant icon – from the two above – appears at the start of each section to help readers keep the analytical frame in mind.

  • [Source:-Pew Researsh Centre]