Hajj: Mashair Train To Be Fully Operational During Hajj

Mashair_train

Mashair Train project that connects the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah has been completed.

Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al Faisal announced that the Mashair Train project that connects the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah has been completed and it will be operational at its full capacity for the upcoming Hajj.

Speaking to reporters in Makkah after an inspection tour of the holy sites on Saturday evening, Prince Khaled Al Faisal, who is also chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, said that the final linking of the Mashair Train with the Haram and Al Haramain Railway stations will be carried out soon. Al Faisal said the Mashair Train has been completed from Arafat to Mina.

"The Haram Mosque will be linked after a study of the transport system in Makkah is completed. It will also be linked with Al Haramain Train. There is also a study under way to increase passenger capacity in Mina," he said.

Other major achievements for this year's Hajj include the completion of the dam projects in Muzdalifa, and the work of municipalities in keeping the holy sites and Makkah hygienic and clean.

In a related development, Paul Anderson, an Australian Muslim expert in the operation of trains, said that Mashair Train service with a capacity to carry 72000 pilgrims per hour is credited to have the top train capacity known ever in the world in transporting passengers.

"In China and Japan, the maximum capacity of train transportation in an hour does not exceed 56000 passengers," he said in a paper presented at a workshop in Riyadh recently.

Anderson had presented the report to the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs that supervised implementation of the Mashair Train Project. According to Anderson, the Mashair Train will help pilgrims avoid air pollution.
 
"The trains are instrumental in reducing about 30 tons of harmful gases in addition to carbon dioxide emitted from nearly 120000 buses operating service during the Hajj week. This pollution causes health problems for pilgrims, especially for those suffering from heart and asthma diseases," he said.
 
"The trains operate at a speed of 80 km per hour while buses travel only five km per hour," Anderson said. It will take a pilgrim 8 minutes to travel what would take up to four hours on a bus, he added. "There will be no need for parking spaces on Arafat day," he said.

Porsche Design P’9981 Blackberry

Blackberry_porsche_design

Research in Motion, in collaboration with Porsche Design, launched its latest BlackBerry smartphone Porsche Design P’9981.

The exterior is made up of a forged stainless steel frame and the rear is covered with hand-wrapped leather. It also boasts of a laser cut QWERTY keyboard.

The P’9981 comes fully functional with 8 GB of hard-drive memory, a 1.2 GHz processor, as well as Dual-Band Wi-Fi capabilities and offering 720p HD video.

The device offers a smooth browsing experience and a built-in compass, as well as the usual selection of exclusive appl on BlackBerry App World™ 3.0.

The BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9981 smartphone is set to hit stores later this year. Pricing information is not yet announced, but the device is anticipated to cost $2,000.

“The Porsche Design P’9981 is a truly modern luxury smartphone, where the timeless style of Porsche Design meets the unmatched mobile experience provided by BlackBerry,” Todd Wood of RIM said describing the phone.

This will be RIM’s first collaboration with a luxury brand to release a smartphone and RIM now joins other collaborations on the market today, including Samsung with Armani, LG with Prada, Asus with Lamborghini, and Acer with Ferrari.

Porsche Design P9981 BlackBerry 468x323 Porsche Design P’9981 Blackberry

Black History Month – London

Black_history_month

Nikiwa kazini (London) nikipeperusha bendera ya Tanzania katika siku maalum katika mwezi huu wa Black History Month. Mimi wenzangu tumechagua mwezi huu kukuza mfuko wa msaada kwa kusaidia Somalia Crisis Appeal na Anti-Slavery Charity uliyotayarishwa kazini kwetu kusimamiwa na mfanyakazi mwenzangu Lyndon Haynes (kulia) ambaye ni mtunzi wa kitabu cha This Functional Family ambacho kinapatikana Amazon, kulia kwangu ni mfanyakazi mwenzangu dada Bassey Henshaw.

Mwito wa mfuko huo ni "encouraging and promoting tolerance amongst ourselves, where differences should be understood and respected". Pesa zote ambazo zinakusanywa zitapelekwa kwenye mifuko miwili ifuatayo:

http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/somalia-crisis.htm

http://www.antislavery.org/english/what_we_do/default.aspx

Bonyeza kwenye link juu kuchangia upande wako.

Mungu ibariki Tanzania,

Mungu ibariki Afrika.

Our Clocks Will Move Forward By An Hour For Good, But Only If Scotland Agrees

Clock

  • Government set to begin three-year trial to move clocks forward an hour
  • Blanket agreement must be met for the Government to impose the changes
  • Clocks change this Sunday morning

The clocks will go back this weekend to herald the end of British Summer Time.

But it might be for the last time, as moves are afoot to keep clocks wound forward by an hour for good from next year.

The final decision rests with Scotland – and those north of the border are against a move that would give them an extra hour of darkness in the morning.

The Government is poised to back plans for Britain's clocks to go forward by one hour all year round, with ministers set to support proposals that mean moving in line with Central European Time, for a trial period of three years.

The changes would mean lighter winter evenings, which supporters claim would cut road deaths, boost tourism and reduce energy use.

However there are a number of hurdles to pass before the plans become reality – including blanket agreement from Scotland about the proposed changes.

The coalition Government said today it will only go ahead with the reforms if they win the backing of political leaders across the UK – any 'clear opposition' would mean the plans were dropped.

Scotland has traditionally opposed such a move as the nation would be plunged into darkness for longer in the mornings.

Critics claim that would increase the dangers for many workers, particularly farmers, as well as families on the school run.

Ministers will now table amendments to the Daylight Savings Private Members Bill proposing consultation with each of the devolved administrations.

The Bill calls for a review of the potential costs and benefits of such a change and would need further legislation before any trial was launched.

Business Minister Edward Davey said: 'This is an issue which affects everyone across the country so we cannot rush head first into this.

'As the Prime Minister has made clear we would need consensus from the devolved administrations if any change were to take place.

'We have therefore tabled amendments to the current Bill to make sure that it addresses these concerns.

'It is only right that we at least look at what the potential economic and social benefits of any change might be.

'Lower road deaths, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and improved health have all been argued over the years as possible benefits.

'If there is strong evidence to support this then we should at least see what the possible benefits are.'

The Bill will still need the backing of MPs and peers by April next year to go ahead.

The clocks are due to go back this Sunday at 2am when British Summer Time ends.

One person who hopes they remain in the current routine is Hampshire-based Pauline West, who has 4,000 clocks which would need winding on should the Bill be approved and signed.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung_pao_chicken

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins

Ingredients

For kung pao sauce

  • 300g each, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce
  • 500ml water
  • 45g chilli oil
  • white pepper and salt, to taste
  • 150ml peanut oil
     

For kung pao chicken

  • 150ml rice bran oil
  • 12 dry red chillies
  • 720g chicken breast, diced
  • 100g each, red onions and carrots, chopped
  • 75g bok choy (white part), chopped
  • 60g bamboo shoots, diced
  • 100g each, straw mushrooms and red bell pepper, chopped
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 175g cashew nuts, toasted/coriander leaves, to serve

 Preparation

1. In a pan, mix the kung pao sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 mins. Set aside to cool.

2. Heat oil in a wok and brown chillies. Add chicken, cook for 2 mins. Add vegetables, cook for 20 seconds and deglaze with chicken stock. Add kung pao sauce. Cook for 20 seconds. Serve with cashew nuts and/or coriander.

Nokia Takes On Android With Launch Of Windows Phones

Nokia_lumia_800

Nokia is taking the smartphone battle to Android with the launch of a new handset in a collaboration with Microsoft that represents a last-ditch bid to shape computing's new frontier.

With Apple and Google's Android now dominating the smartphone market, the world's largest phone maker is pinning its hopes of a business turnaround on the success of two models unveiled by chief executive Stephen Elop at the annual Nokia World event in London.

The first Nokia handsets to run on Microsoft's Windows Phone interface, the Lumia 800, priced €420 (£365), and the Lumia 710, at €270, are aimed squarely at the mid-market, which is dominated by the Android operating system.

The phones were produced in a frantic eight-month period after Elop decided to abandon the "burning platform" of Nokia's own operating software in favour of Windows Phone.

The Lumia phones run on its latest iteration, 7.5 Mango, which has had a limited distribution so far on handsets by HTC, LG and Samsung. In competition with Google's free Android software, Microsoft has struggled to get Windows Phone onto a wide range of handsets, with just 2% market share in mid-2011, according to analyst IDC.

Microsoft will be hoping that Lumia, which Elop described provocatively as "the first real Windows phone made by anyone", will deliver its software to a much wider audience. With sales of PCs declining in favour of mobile connected devices, Microsoft's influence over consumer technology will fade unless it can make its presence felt on smartphones and tablets.

The US behemoth is understood to be lavishly bankrolling the Lumia launch, paying unspecified billions to Nokia as a thank-you for using its software, and the new advertising campaign will have a budget three times higher than for any previous Nokia range.

The Lumia 800 will be released in November in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with customers able to pre-order immediately from nokia.com, and 31 networks and independent retailers committed to marketing the product. Its case is a slimmer version of the colourful N9 released by Nokia earlier this year.

Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan will get the handset before the end of the year, with further markets early in 2012. The United States is not on the list, because Nokia has no Lumia models yet that will work on 4G superfast mobile internet, which is already in use in across the Atlantic.

The cheaper Lumia 710, which echoes the iPhone with its curved edges and white or black casing, will be available first in Russia and the far east, before heading west in 2012.

Proclaiming a "new dawn" for Nokia, Elop said: "Eight months ago, we shared our new strategy and today we are demonstrating clear progress of this strategy in action." He added: "We're driving innovation throughout our entire portfolio."

Elop is keeping one eye firmly on developing markets, unveiling four "Asha" handsets named after the Hindi word for hope, aimed at the "next 1 billion" users in those parts of the world where most people's first experience of the internet will be via a mobile phone.

Having decided not to adopt Android as an operating system, Nokia has seemed frozen in the headlights of its progress. Since the beginning of 2010, the Finnish firm's market capitalisation has halved from $52bn to $25bn, and over the same period its share of the smartphone market has declined from 39% to 16%. Revenues have slumped, and operating profits of over €1bn for its phones division were as low as €132m in September.

A former Nokia executive, Anssi Vanjoki, once said that by adopting Android, rivals like HTC were just like Finnish boys who "pee in their pants" in winter for temporary warmth.

That decision allowed rivals HTC and Samsung to race ahead, but some experts believe that Windows Phone Mango is distinctive enough to have been worth waiting for. Its interface has been welcomed as an improvement on the design of Apple and Android. Benedict Evans at Enders Analysis said: "Next year, Nokia and Apple will be the only people selling smartphones that aren't generic slabs of black plastic."

Lorry Stuck Between Buildings For 26 Hours After Somerset Satnav Screw-up

Sat_nav

A lorry driver ended up with a face as red as the cab of his truck after a satnav blunder left him stuck in a narrow alley in the village of Bruton, Somerset.

The driver, who remains anonymous, was delivering soft drinks in the sleepy village and was searching for a parking space when his lorry became stuck between a house and an estate agents.

Thanks to the lane's steep incline, he was unable to reverse back up the street and had no choice but to stay put and endure the taunts of the locals, who found the whole incident much more amusing than his boss.

Mike Clifford, landlord at the nearby Sun Inn, told The Daily Mail: 'Very little happens in Bruton, so this event was the talk of the town and the driver got ripped to pieces by the locals when he came into the pub.

'When he asked where the toilets were a lot of people started giving him directions and telling him to shout if he got stuck in there.'

The driver was forced to sleep in his cab overnight while a rescue team was sent out to tow him back up the street, causing minor damage to property, and has since been suspended from his job at Ian Crank Soft Drinks.

At least the driver can console himself that he didn't make quite as much of a mistake as Petra Lang, who took the directions to the lake from her satnav a little too literally earlier this year, driving her van straight into the water.  

New Gmail: Google Accidentally Posts Video Of Redesign On YouTube

New_gmail

A new version of Gmail has accidentally been unveiled by Google after a video outlining the revamped email service was mistakenly uploaded onto YouTube.

The video was uploaded on Thursday and features Gmail engineer Jason Cornwell discussing the new features developed by Google.

The original version has since been taken down but duplicates still exist on YouTube.

Google has already admitted its mistake, with Gmail representative Andrea Freund telling Mashable: ‘Oops, you weren’t supposed to see that. Stay tuned, we’ll be sharing more info on Gmail’s new look soon.’

Unveiling the new changes in the video, Cornwell declares: ‘We’ve completely redesigned the look and feel of Gmail to make it as clean, simple and intuitive as possible.’

One of the new features is Gmail’s ability to automatically resize itself to fit into any window. Users can also set their display density, allowing them to alter how many emails are shown in their inbox at any time as well as being able to adjust the size of label and chat bars.

Other changes include new high-resolution background images, a new search box and a redesign of the conversations in Gmail which have been ‘redesigned to improve readability and to feel more like a real conversation’.

Apart from confirming it hadn’t meant to upload the video, Google has yet to comment on the new Gmail or confirmed when it will be rolled out.

Tax Refund: Will You Get A Payout?

Postman_delivers_letter

For 6 million taxpayers there is good news on its way in the shape of a refund worth around £400. Will you be one of them? Rupert Jones reports.

Stand by your letterbox – tax refund cheques of around £300-£400 will be landing on up to 6m doormats as a result of HM Revenue & Customs finding that huge numbers of people have paid too much tax.

The first cheques should start arriving on Tuesday or Wednesday. "Christmas comes early for 6 million taxpayers," was the headline on a press release from a firm of accountants; however, it omitted to mention that the mammoth mailout is being spread over about 14 months, which means some people won't get their cash until Christmas 2012.

And there is a sting in the tail, too. Around 1.2 million people will be getting bad news from the Revenue over the next few weeks: a letter telling them they have paid too little tax. The typical underpayment is £500-£600.

The refunds and underpayments relate to different tax years, so it is theoretically possible that some people will receive both a cheque and a bill.

So, who's getting the payouts, and who's going to be lumbered with a bill? What is it that people did – or didn't do – that means they are in line for a refund? Guardian Money explains what has happened and gives you some pointers as to whether you might be a winner or a loser.

Let's look at the "winners" first. HMRC revealed this week that up to 6 million people paid too much tax through the pay as you earn (PAYE) system over a five-year period from 2003-4 to 2007-8. The overpayments total £2.5bn.

Strictly speaking, it is 6m "cases", not individual people. Some people could get money relating to several tax years. The average rebate is around £300, though interest that has built up will be added (the interest rate for repayments has changed a lot since 2003 – it has been as high as 4% and as low as 0%). The minimum refund is likely to be £10, while a few people might get "a couple of thousand". If you are owed less than a tenner, bad luck.

Some people will want to know why the department has been sitting on people's money for so long – up to eight years – and is only now getting around to paying it back. HMRC says these were "complicated" legacy cases that typically involved changes in people's circumstances, and until now, it didn't have the IT capabilities to carry out such a mammoth exercise. It has been bedding-in a new system, which means it is now able to clear the backlog.

The good news is that those owed a refund do not have to contact HMRC – it's an automatic process. The not so good news is that many people won't know they are a winner until they get their cheque, and that might not be for months. The department will probably start with the oldest cases first.

So, what types of people may have paid too much tax?

You may have overpaid if:

• You started a new job and had an emergency tax code for a while;

• You only worked for part of the year;

• Your circumstances changed – perhaps you were made redundant, went part-time or became self-employed, and therefore your income fell;

• Other income, such as savings or investment income, reduced but you didn't tell the taxman;

• You didn't tell HMRC about changes to benefits you received through your work, such as a company car, private medical insurance or luncheon vouchers. For example, if HMRC didn't know that you ditched your company car and decided to start cycling to work, or that your employer scrapped the healthcare scheme some time ago, then the taxman may well have been charging you tax on a benefit you've not been receiving;

• Your employer was using the wrong tax code;

• You had more than one job at the same time.

Some commentators described this week's revelations as a monumental tax blunder, but the department disputes this – saying there would always be a minority of people who had paid too much or too little.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged about the 1.2 million people who have paid too little tax through the PAYE system. This relates to the 2010-11 tax year. Letters giving these people more information are going out between now and the end of the year.

In reality, most of those affected will not actually get a bill – instead, their tax code will be changed. In effect, they will pay back what they owe via deductions from their salary during the 2012-13 tax year.

However, the 1.2 million includes 146,000 pensioners, and they will be treated differently. "Where a pensioner has underpaid tax for 2010-11, we will automatically code out that underpayment over a period of three years from April 2012 without them needing to contact us. We will also write to these customers to apologise, explain why the underpayment happened and how we will collect it," the spokesman said. "We have been working with pensioner representatives, who are supportive of our approach."

Last year, when a similar storm erupted, almost 1 million people had their tax debt written off after HMRC said it would not pursue cases where the amount owed was less than £300. However, this concession will not be in place this year, and the threshold has gone back to the standard £50.

At the height of last year's controversy, experts said some people who had underpaid tax might not have to pay if they ask for an "extra statutory concession" known as an ESC A19. This allows HMRC to write off tax in certain situations – but unfortunately it does not apply this time because the timescales are different.

• Don't forget that time is running out for people to file their paper tax returns – the deadline is 31 October. "If you want more time, file it online, and have until 31 January to do so," the department says.