Texas gunman had happy childhood in Pakistan but struggled in US

By REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Nadir Soofi, a gunman shot dead after opening fire at a Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was a popular schoolboy in Pakistan but struggled to adjust to the United States after moving there as a teen, friends said on Tuesday.

Police say disappointment, alienation, and a search for belonging inspired Soofi and his roommate, Elton Simpson, to attack the exhibit and contest to draw Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) cartoons on Sunday.

Such depictions are offensive to Muslims and often spark violence. Event organisers said the event was defending free speech.

The two gunmen were shot dead by a police officer before they could kill anyone.

Friends in Pakistan, who studied with Soofi at the elite International School of Islamabad, were stunned to discover that police had identified him as was one of the attackers.

“When he was in Islamabad, he had a great life. His mom was an American who taught art at the school, he was in plays, popular with girls,” said one of Soofi’s best friends at school.

“His nickname was Goofy” because of his sense of humour, said the man, who declined to be identified to preserve his privacy.

Another classmate said Soofi played the lead in the school’s production of the play “Bye Bye Birdie”.

“He was a popular kid, the opposite of a radical extremist,” she said.

Soofi’s parents divorced around the time he was in tenth grade, the friend said, and he moved to Utah with his mother.

Over the years, Soofi told his old friends he did not fit in and had many disappointments.

He went to dental school, but said he had to drop out because of financial problems, the male friend said.

He tried and failed at various ventures including a dry cleaning store, he said.

He told friends he had a child with a Bosnian woman but the relationship did not work out.

“He said ‘life is really tough here’,” the male friend said.

“Alienation, an identity crisis, whatever you want to call it, he was kind of alone.”

“I guess the one thing he could identify with was religion.”

In the past few years, Soofi grew a beard and only posted pictures of himself wearing sunglasses on Facebook, the friend said. Old friends teased him for that but also began to worry, the friend said.

Gradually they lost contact.

“I looked at his pictures, and I didn’t recognize him,” the friend said.

“I don’t know what happened to him in America.”

The attack was earlier claimed by the extremist militant group Islamic State through a statement made over their Al-Bayan radio. It is the first attack claimed by IS in the United States.

News courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1180141

Even Small Businesses Are Jumping on the Robot Bandwagon

BY ELAINE POFELDT

bots aren’t just for corporate Goliaths — now even the little guy on Main Street is adopting them. The goal: to boost sales and productivity. But at what cost?

Take Sam Kraus, a Hungarian immigrant who founded what became Skyline Windows in 1921. In the early days, the tinsmith traveled around with a small cart to do his roofing and waterproofing work by hand.

Fast-forward to today, and the fourth-generation business based in New York City’s South Bronx has left the pushcart era far behind. Skyline, which has evolved into a custom window manufacturer and installer, now relies on robots to do some of its work. In the factory in Woodridge, New Jersey, where it makes its windows, Skyline uses a $150,000 computer-operated machine to automate tasks like cutting holes in the metal and two $20,000 robots to install its windows, which sometimes weigh 600 pounds.

“It allows us to be more efficient—and our plan is to buy more of these robots when we can,” said senior vice president Matt Kraus, whose profitable firm brings in about $70 million in annual revenue and employs about 350 people.

Kraus is one of many entrepreneurs who are discovering that robots can be a powerful tool for growing a small company—even one with its roots in an old-line business. In the manufacturing industry, a recent study by Boston Consulting Group found that by 2025 robots will do about 25 percent of all industrial tasks—and that inexpensive robots are becoming increasingly available to smaller companies. Robotics are also making it possible for more individuals to start businesses in industries where the need for a substantial labor force once posed a big barrier to entry.

“Automation is having a big impact,” said Martin Ford, author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” due to be published May 5. “It’s both positive and negative.”

3-D printing is one example. Some tiny firms are already using 3-D printers to make prototypes and even manufacturing products on their own, Ford said. Others are sending their prototypes to China, where they make the products. That makes it easier for business owners to fatten their bottom line, but the flip side will be a decline in traditional jobs.

The future of jobs

“Businesses will need to hire no people or fewer people,” he said. “You can literally have one person start a manufacturing business.”

A decline in traditional jobs could lead to shrinking markets for small businesses, said Ford. “We need consumers out there who will buy what is created by the economy,” he said.

Courtesy: NBC News
Read more » http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/even-small-businesses-are-jumping-robot-bandwagon-n352186

Drone, helicopter or plane? NASA’s 10-Engine Electric Plane Takes Off and Lands Like a Helicopter

NASA’s 10-Engine Electric Plane Takes Off and Lands Like a Helicopter

BY DEVIN COLDEWEY

NASA researchers took a rather unique prototype aircraft for a spin last week: Greased Lightning, a 10-engine electric plane with rotating wings that allow it to take off and land like a helicopter. Vertical take-off and landing aircraft, or VTOL, are not a new idea, but this particular configuration sure is. The GL-10 has four engines on each wing and one on each tip of its rear stabilizer — that’s much different from the large, tilting rotors of the V-22 Osprey or the rotating jets on a Harrier.

Read more » NBC News
See more » http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/nasas-10-engine-electric-plane-takes-lands-helicopter-n353556

Pakistan – Supreme Court ponders over whether Pakistan can be declared a secular state

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court judges on Monday debated the mechanism that would be needed to declare Pakistan a secular state.

Hearing constitutional petitions against the 18th and 21st Constitutional Amendments, a 17-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk questioned how the country would go about declaring itself a secular state if there is a popular demand for change.

The chief justice questioned whether such a process could be carried out through a constituent assembly. “How can the constituent assembly be formed at present stage?”

“If a political party whose manifesto supported such a declaration comes to power, how does that party plan on making the country secular?” Justice Mian Saqib Nisar questioned.

Proposing a solution, Hamid Khan, counsel for different bar associations suggested that it could be carried out through a referendum.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa also questioned whether parliament had the power to pass an amendment to the Constitution which would declare the country secular.

Taking a page out of history, Justice Khosa said the country was created in the name of Islam in 1947 and later reaffirmed its commitment to being an Islamic state in 1949 with the Objectives Resolution, which was also supported by East Pakistan. However, Khosa pointed out how East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) went on to declare their country a secular state after partition. Later, Bangladesh attempted to declare the country an Islamic state through a constitutional amendments, but the Bangladesh Supreme Court annulled the amendment.

Citing the example of Turkey, Justice Khosa added people and their ideologies change with the passage of time. However, Jutsice Khawaja believed changes in Bangladesh and Turkey were rooted in revolution.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/880622/sc-ponders-over-whether-pakistan-can-be-declared-a-secular-state/

Which Musalmans do we claim descent from?

Islamabad diary

By Ayaz Amir

Muslim rule in Hindustan was mainly Turkish rule – from Mahmud to Babur all Turkish conquerors or rulers – interspersed with episodes of Afghan rule as under the Lodhis and Sher Shah Suri. But we the denizens of the Fortress of Islam – the confused begetters of holy enterprises like Jehad-e-Afghanistan – what have we in common with those warriors?

They were full-blooded men marching at the head of conquering armies…Muslims to be sure but with none of the false piety or hypocrisy which often seems to be the leading currency of our Islamic Republic. Come to think of it, none of them proclaimed their empires as Islamic Empires. Confident in the strength of their arms they felt no obligation or necessity to issue declarations about their rectitude or their championship of the faith.

Continue reading Which Musalmans do we claim descent from?