Xiaomi Redmi 4 review: High on performance, low on price

Xiaomi 2

Xiaomi Xiaomi is a well-known player in the Indian smartphone market. The company has made quite a name for itself with its affordable yet feature-loaded smartphones. And to woo the budget-conscious Indian consumer, it has launched a new smartphone in the country.

Having a starting price of Rs 6,999, the Redmi 4 is Xiaomi’s latest entry into the hugely-competitive Indian smartphone market. The successor to last year’s Redmi 3S Prime, the smartphone comes with many improvements and claims to offer better performance over its predecessor. But is it really any good?

We tested the Xiaomi Redmi 4 for some time, and here’s the rest of our review.

Design and display

In terms of design, the Redmi 4 looks similar to its predecessor – Redmi 3S (Prime). That said, the company has tweaked the design a little bit here and there.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 sports an all-metal unibody design. Compared to the Redmi 3S, it’s more compact and less slippery. The smartphone comes with a matte rear panel and round edges make it easy to hold. The front panel has three soft-touch navigation keys – Home, Options and Back below the display. Above the display is the earpiece, a 5MP selfie camera and the usual array of sensors.

The rear panel has a 13MP rear camera with LED flash at the top left corner. At the center, there’s a circular fingerprint sensor and Xiaomi’s ‘Mi’ logo at the lower section. The power button and volume rocker are placed on the right side, while the SIM card tray sits on the left. The top edge has a 3.5mm audio jack and an IR blaster, while the bottom edge houses the speaker grille and microUSB charging port. All said, the Redmi 4 retains majority of the design elements of the Redmi 3S, but is sleeker and easier to hold in the hand.

Talking about the display, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 has a 5-inch HD display of 720×1280 pixel resolution. The 2.5D curved glass design improves the overall appearance of the smartphone and definitely looks better than the flat screen of its predecessor. During our testing, we found the display to be good. Brightness levels are decent and the display isn’t that reflective, even when used under direct sunlight. Colour reproduction and viewing angles are on point as well. The display comes with a ‘Reading Mode’ that further reduces background glare. It’s possible to schedule the ‘Reading Mode’ for automatic activation at a certain time, and users can configure it for all apps or some selective ones.

Xiaomi Redmi 4 is powered by a 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor and comes in three variants based on RAM and internal storage. Our test unit had 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The smartphone also accepts microSD cards of up to 128GB in size.
During the course of our testing, we found the smartphone to perform adequately without any kind of visible lag. We played various heavy games and used some heavy editing apps, and the Redmi 4 handled everything without any issues.
That said, the smartphone’s rear panel heated up a little (around the rear camera lens) after extended amount of gaming. Multitasking and switching between apps was a smooth affair.
We ran AnTuTu and GeekBench 4 benchmarking tests on the smartphone as well. While it scored 41,856 in the former, the single-core and multi-core scores on the latter were 664 and 1910 respectively.

As for call quality, it was largely fine on 4G VoLTE networks. Signal reception was also good on the Redmi 4.
Xiaomi Redmi 4 is backed by a 4,100mAh battery, which easily lasted us more than a day with moderate usage. This can be attributed to the low-resolution display and small screen size. Moreover, the battery doesn’t take much time to get fully-charged either.

Coming to the software, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS with the company’s MIUI 8.2 skin baked on top. There’s no app drawer and all apps are placed on multiple homescreens. Some essential apps like compass and malware scanner come pre-installed. There’s also a ‘Lite Mode’, which simplifies the UI with bigger icons and fewer features for better accessibility. The Child and Guest modes can be used to restrict access to selected apps.

Just like its predecessor, Xiaomi Redmi 4 comes with an IR blaster, which allows the smartphone to be used as a universal remote control. The pre-installed Mi Remote app lets users add virtual remote controls for a variety of home appliances like TVs and ACs.

Talking about the camera, the Redmi 4 has a 13MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front-facing shooter for selfies. The camera app itself is pretty simple to use and comes with various shooting modes such as Panorama, Manual, Tilt-shift and more. There is also a Beautify mode that allows users to take better selfies.

During our testing, we found the image quality of the Redmi 4’s camera to be impressive. The captured images offer sharp and vibrant colours, especially with adequate lighting. The camera performed well in both indoor and outdoor conditions, especially considering its price. The front camera also delivered good results in our testing.

Source: timesofindia

Flynn reportedly told Trump team he was under investigation before inauguration

Flynn

Weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, Michael Flynn told the transition team he was under federal investigation for working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, the New York Times reported late Wednesday.

The disclosure by Flynn on Jan. 4 was first made to then-Trump transition team lawyer Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel, two people familiar with the case told the newspaper.

Flynn’s conversation with the transition team came a month after the Justice Department notified Flynn he was under investigation, according to the Times.

The Justice Department investigation was not seen as disqualifying Flynn from the national security adviser position, people close to the retired Army lieutenant general told Fox News.

Flynn was fired as national security adviser by Trump on Feb. 13 after the White House said he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

The White House had no immediate comment on the Times story Wednesday night.

Earlier Wednesday, people close to the former national security adviser told Fox News that Flynn never asked Trump to interfere or block federal probes.

“Flynn never spoke to the president about trying to end or influence any ongoing government investigations of him,” Fox News was told.

Separately, McClatchy reported Wednesday that Flynn declined a request from the Obama administration to approve a Pentagon plan to retake ISIS’ de facto capital, Raqqa, with the help of Syrian Kurdish forces — a plan that the government of Turkey had opposed.

The Trump administration eventually approved the offensive after Flynn’s dismissal. Weeks after his firing, Flynn retroactively registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. He was ultimately paid more than $500,000 to advocate for the Turkish government.

The McClatchy report says Flynn’s explanation for the decision is not recorded and it was not immediately clear whether he consulted with other members of the transition team.

Source: foxnews

House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump

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KIEV, Ukraine — A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

News had just broken the day before in The Washington Post that Russian government hackers had penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, prompting McCarthy to shift the conversation from Russian meddling in Europe to events closer to home.

Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”

Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The remarks remained secret for nearly a year.

[Read the transcript of the conversation among GOP leaders obtained by The Post]

The conversation provides a glimpse at the internal views of GOP leaders who now find themselves under mounting pressure over the conduct of President Trump. The exchange shows that the Republican leadership in the House privately discussed Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and Trump’s relationship to Putin, but wanted to keep their concerns secret. It is difficult to tell from the recording the extent to which the remarks were meant to be taken literally.trump

The House leadership has so far stood by the White House as it has lurched from one crisis to another, much of the turmoil fueled by contacts between Trump or his associates with Russia.

House Republican leaders have so far resisted calls for the appointment of an independent commission or a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference, though pressure has been mounting on them to do so after Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and the disclosure that the president shared intelligence with Russian diplomats.

Late Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced he had appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, as special counsel to oversee the Russia probe.

[Deputy attorney general appoints special counsel to oversee probe of Russian interference in election]

Evan McMullin, who in his role as policy director to the House Republican Conference participated in the June 15 conversation, said: “It’s true that Majority Leader McCarthy said that he thought candidate Trump was on the Kremlin’s payroll. Speaker Ryan was concerned about that leaking.”

McMullin ran for president last year as an independent and has been a vocal critic of Trump.

When initially asked to comment on the exchange, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan, said: “That never happened,” and Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, said: “The idea that McCarthy would assert this is absurd and false.”

After being told that The Post would cite a recording of the exchange, Buck, speaking for the GOP House leadership, said: “This entire year-old exchange was clearly an attempt at humor. No one believed the majority leader was seriously asserting that Donald Trump or any of our members were being paid by the Russians. What’s more, the speaker and leadership team have repeatedly spoken out against Russia’s interference in our election, and the House continues to investigate that activity.”

“This was a failed attempt at humor,” Sparks said.

Ken Grubbs, a spokesman for Rohrabacher, said the congressman has been a consistent advocate of “working closer with the Russians to combat radical Islamism. The congressman doesn’t need to be paid to come to such a necessary conclusion.”

When McCarthy voiced his assessment of whom Putin supports, suspicions were only beginning to swirl around Trump’s alleged Russia ties.

At the time, U.S. intelligence agencies knew that the Russians had hacked the DNC and other institutions, but Moscow had yet to start publicly releasing damaging emails through WikiLeaks to undermine Trump’s Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. An FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to influence the presidential election would open the following month, in late July, Comey has said in testimony to Congress.

Trump has sought to play down contacts between his campaign and the Russians, dismissing as a “witch hunt” the FBI and congressional investigations into Russian efforts to aid Trump and any possible coordination between the Kremlin and his associates. Trump denies any coordination with Moscow took place.

Source: washingtonpost

Miss. drug probe nets doctors, nurse practitioners

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JACKSON, Miss. — During March, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics worked a drug overdose case every other day, on average.

MBN Director John Dowdy said about 90% of those were opioid-related. In 2016, 37 health care providers were arrested by state agents for pharmaceutical diversion.

So when officials say they’re serious about cracking down on health care providers who are enabling drug addicts, they have good reason.

nurse“Obviously they’re not getting the point, so prescribers in the state of Mississippi need to understand we’re serious about the opioid epidemic that we have, and we’re coming. You don’t want MBN and you don’t want DEA knocking at your door,” he said.

In a news conference Wednesday, officials announced that two nurse practitioners have been charged and two doctors have surrendered their DEA licenses, in addition to a pharmacy that faces civil action, after a month-long investigation by state and federal drug agents.

Nurse practitioners Brenda Shelton, 54, of Ripley, and Amanda Jones, 35, of Starkville are facing charges after the pharmaceutical diversion investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Tupelo, Ripley and West Point.

Shelton is charged with prescription fraud, as she was found allegedly prescribing controlled substances without a valid DEA license and without an advanced practice registered nurse license. Officials say she surrendered both licenses in 2014.

Reports from the State Board of Pharmacy show she wrote 55 controlled substance prescriptions over two years.

Jones was arrested for allegedly writing prescriptions for Adderall, which is a Schedule II controlled substance, in the name of a family member. The prescriptions would then be filled at local pharmacies. She surrendered her DEA license earlier this month.

Dr. William Bell, 49, of Tupelo, has not been charged but surrendered his DEA license for allegedly prescribing controlled pharmaceutical drugs. Authorities say he was practicing outside the scope of an emergency room physician when he was found to be writing prescriptions for Adderall and Clonazepam, which is a Schedule IV controlled substance. Bell was allegedly writing the prescriptions for himself, family members and friends.

Dr. Dwalia South, 62, of Ripley, also has not been charged but was allegedly conspiring with Shelton to write prescriptions.

South was sworn in a member of the state Board of Health in 2015, and according to the latest Blue Book from the secretary of state’s office, is still on the board. She has been a family practice physician at Ripley Health Care Associates, a satellite campus of North Mississippi Primary Health Care, since 1995. In 2003 she was named Mississippi Family Physician of the Year and was listed as one of America’s Top Family Doctors of the Year in 2004-05.

Authorities say South and Shelton worked with Hollis Discount Pharmacy of Ripley to alter the prescriptions in the Board of Pharmacy’s prescription monitoring program.

Hollis Discount Pharmacy faces civil action for its involvement in the conspiracy, officials said.

Nationally, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled since 1999, killing 91 Americans every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The crisis has been exacerbated by a spike in the use of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which are super potent and deadly.

“The lion’s share of those (deaths) are prescription drug overdoses,” Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. “This is important. It’s not about putting people in prison. We’re not going to arrest our way out of this. We’ve got to get the attention of these health care providers.”

In 2011, heroin began showing up in Mississippi, but most of it was in interdiction stops, as it was on its way to Atlanta or Chicago on the interstate highways. But year after year, it has increased as a problem until in 2016, law enforcement around the state made 279 heroin seizures. Fisher said that’s not because of overzealous law enforcement cracking down on prescription drugs as some people suggest.

“If you want to believe that, it’s fine, you can believe in the Easter Bunny, too,” he said. “It’s because there’s an overprescribing and overproduction of opioids represented as medication you can take as simple as Tylenol or Advil.”

Adderall has become a problem as well, MBN Deputy Director Steven Maxwell said.

“It’s a drug of choice for all ages. It used to be college kids, but now it’s adults, too. For the illicit user, it’s a good drug and it’s easily obtained,” he said.

And heroin is cheaper and easier to come by in the end, so drug users will make the switch. Recent studies show that half of heroin abusers report abusing prescription opioids before they moved to heroin.

Fisher and Dowdy were appointed in the last year by Gov. Phil Bryant, and both stated the opioid epidemic will be a focus of state drug enforcement resources. On Wednesday, they made it clear it doesn’t matter if you’re a dealer in an alley or a dealer in a doctor’s office.

“If we find out that your prescription habits are causing addiction problems, we’ll come find you,” Dowdy said. “If we have overdose deaths related to your prescribing habits, let this serve as notice to the health care professionals in this state, we’re not playing around anymore.”

Source: usatoday

Rajinikanth Under Immense Pressure To Join Politics, Says Friend

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While Tamil actor Rajinikanth has refused to clear doubts about him taking a plunge into politics, one of his closest friends has insisted that “he won’t disappoint 7 crore Tamilians”.

Raj Bahadur, Rajinikanth’s friend from the old days when he earned his livelihood as a conductor in Karnataka state-run buses, told The Hindu that the actor was “very concerned” about the future of the state after Jayalalithaa’s death.

Now even as BJP’s Pon Radhakrishnan, Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, insisted that the party would “welcome” him, Rajinikanth didn’t confirm his entry into politics. But he hasn’t explicitly refused the offer either.

Rajinikanth, as well as his fans have said that they would prefer starting a new party, rather than joining an existing one. The 66-year-old actor had said earlier this week:
“Considering the hints he has been dropping, I think Rajini will not disappoint seven crore Tamilians,” Bahadur added.

During the three-day meeting with his fans, Rajinikanth said that his name was often dragged into political debates despite him stressing that he was “neither an influential political leader nor a social activist.”

“I made a mistake by supporting a political alliance 21 years ago. It was a political accident. Since then, politicians have misused my name on several occasions. But I have to clarify, I’m not joining any party,” Rajinikanth said.

In 1996, the actor had supported the DMK-TMC alliance in Tamil Nadu, which swept the polls that year. But he has not been involved in any political activity since then.

Source: huffingtonpost

FiiO X5 (3rd gen) review: Fall in love with music, all over again

FiiO Tanks to their all-round versatility, modern-day smartphones are no longer just communication devices. Whether it’s clicking photos, checking social media updates or anything else, they can do it all. But perhaps their most-popular use is as portable music (and by extension, media) players.

And that makes perfect sense, given how convenient they are. Just transfer your favorite tracks to your smartphone’s internal storage (or a microSD card, which in turn can be popped into the phone, if supported), grab a pair of headphones/earphones, and you’re ready to roll. That’s how simple it is, and that’s precisely why smartphones have become the de-facto personal music players for just about everyone.

Be that as it may, there are some for whom a smartphone playing a bunch of low-bitrate MP3s, cranking out distorted output through a pair of run-of-the-mill earphones, just doesn’t cut it. These are discerning audiophiles (such as yours truly) who’d settle for nothing less than the purest-quality sound, and who’d go to great lengths to curate an enviable collection of lossless digital music. And for these folks, a high-resolution portable music player (PMP) is the only way to go.

If that’s something you can relate to, then you might want to take a gander at the FiiO X5. The Chinese company has made quite a name for itself in the past few years, thanks to its affordable yet feature-packed Hi-Res audio products. And the new X5, now in its third generation, is supposed to be among the best FiiO has ever made.
But is that really the case? Or at a hefty price of Rs 27,299, is this thing is ultimately too costly for its own good?

Take one look at the FiiO X5, and you can’t help but appreciate its solid build quality. Although it has a rather unassuming cuboid-shaped construction, the subtle design touches sprinkled here and there add to the PMP’s overall aesthetic appeal.

Let’s begin with the sides. On the top end of the right side, there’s a small circular Power/Sleep button that has a Blue-coloured Power status indicator LED at its center. The button itself is enclosed by a Red-colored outline and the whole arrangement is placed inside a slightly-recessed section, which looks quite nice. Move a little down to the center, and you’ll see two microSD card trays.

The bottom side of FiiO X5 is also its busiest. Left to right, it consists of a 3.5mm headphone port, a 2.5mm balanced output port, a microUSB port (for charging and data transfers) and a 3.5mm line-out/coaxial digital output port. Two tiny screws are here as well.

thumbAs for the left, this is the one that lends a funky character to the otherwise straightforward design of the FiiO X5. The whole left side is a slightly-protruding one and slants a bit inward while going from bottom to top. A much smaller section of this protrusion starts from the top and again, slants inward to meet the bigger one head-on, thus creating a recess between them. It’s this recess that hides the FiiO X5’s most distinctive-looking button -— a volume control dial -— which makes the adjustment of playback volume a walk in the park. On one side of the dial, there’s a Play/Pause button while on the other, a Forward/Rewind rocker is located.

Get to the front, and you’ll see the only element that sticks out like a sore thumb in the X5’s otherwise premium construction — Display. Although the 3.97-inch touchscreen is usable, its absurdly low 480×800 pixel resolution is tacky. The fact that it’s a TFT panel doesn’t help things either. It’s true that the primary focus of the X5 is music and not video consumption (or playing games), but we think that an LCD panel with a slightly-higher resolution would’ve been much better suited, especially given the PMP’s high price.

The FiiO X5 packs in some serious audio processing hardware underneath. It’s fitted with not just one, but two power-packed 32-bit AKM AK4490EN DACs (Digital to Analog Converters), one taking care of each audio channel. It also has a low-distortion architecture with digital filtering and decoding support up to 768kHz. And the dualities don’t just end there. The X5 comes with two crystal oscillators, one that handles DSD sampling rates like 44.1kHz and 352.8kHz, and one that deals with regular sampling rates such as 48kHz and 384kHz. The company claims that these help in eliminating compression artifacts almost completely. Then there are two dual-channel OPA1642 chips for low-pass filtering and a custom OPA426 chip for amplification.

Now, that’s a whole lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, but what does it mean for you, the end user? To put it simply — great sound.

Using the magic of both hardware and software-level audio enhancement, FiiO X5 makes the sound come alive, allowing you to listen to subtle details that’s just not possible otherwise. And you won’t be able to enjoy those details through a cheap pair of earphones. Grab a nice pair of headphones/IEMs from a specialist audio accessories manufacturer like Sennheiser or Altec Lansing (we used the BT Sport), load up some FLAC files, and hear the difference. For our test run, we used the FiiO X5 to play lossless tracks covering genres as diverse as Alternative rock, Acid jazz and Electropop, and the X5 didn’t disappoint us.

The dual DACs ensure that all frequency ranges (e.g. highs, mids) are properly separated, and make even background vocals sound clearer. There’s no distortion in the audio output at all, even when the volume levels are cranked all the way up to the maximum.It’s worth noting that FiiO’s lossless music player can also make standard MP3 tracks work better, thanks to built-in ViPER effects (although many of them are paid) and a 10-band equalizer with multiple presets. There is audio gain support included as well.

As far as the user experience goes, FiiO X5 runs a customized build of Android 5.1 Lollipop. Although it’s visually not much different from regular Android Lollipop, it’s a trimmed-down version that includes just the music-related essentials and extra software-based settings (e.g. Audio gain, Low pass filter). There are two UI modes — a standard mode that includes a homescreen, complete with app drawer; and a Pure music mode that locks the UI to just the music player. The latter is fairly easy to use and includes all standard options like playlist creation and management, grouping of tracks based on genre, artist etc., as well as multi-folder music playback. It goes without saying that the X5 supports nearly all audio formats (both lossy and lossless) out there, including everything from FLAC and ALAC to MP3 and WMA.

While the combination of a quad-core RK3188 chipset and 1GB of RAM may not be the best out there, it gets the job done. Having Android as the core operating system (instead of a custom OS) also lends the FiiO X5 the ability to access the plethora of apps available on the Google Play Store, including everything from streaming music services (e.g. SoundCloud) to lightweight games (e.g. Temple Run 2).

thumb3A particularly noteworthy feature of the X5 is USB Audio support. It essentially means is that you can hook it up to your PC via USB, connect an external speaker through the player’s line-out port and enjoy high-quality sound which is enhanced by the X5 DACs before being transmitted to the external speaker. All you need to do is download a companion USB audio driver from FiiO’s website and install it on your PC. From movies to games to YouTube videos, it makes everything sound better.

FiiO X5 comes with 32GB of internal storage, out of which about 26GB is user accessible. While this is definitely inadequate for anyone who has a decent music collection (especially if it’s all lossless music), the good thing is that the X5 comes with not just one, but two memory expansion slots, each capable of holding a microSD card of up to 256GB in size. That equates to 538GB of storage, which is definitely more than sufficient for just about everyone.

Inside the Oval Office with Trump and the Russians: Broad smiles and loose lips

Office

Comfortable chastising and cajoling in his fluent English, Sergei Lavrov has brought scowls and smiles to the faces of officials from four U.S. administrations during more than two decades as a senior statesman from Russia.

OfficeSo it was no surprise that when the Russian foreign minister paid a visit to President Trump last Wednesday, there were broad grins all around the Oval Office — just in time for Moscow’s official photographer to memorialize a chummy image of a tête-à-tête that Trump might now wish he could forget.

Lavrov — almost certainly aware of Trump’s proud indifference to the conventions of his office, especially when trying to impress visitors — listened as Trump bragged about the intelligence he receives and shared highly classified information from a U.S. partner with Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who also attended, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The meeting that produced one of the biggest crises yet for a White House already well accustomed to tumult began as a favor from one president to another.

On May 2, eight days before Lavrov showed up at the White House, Russian President Vladi­mir Putin was on the phone with Trump and made a request. ­Putin had “new ideas” about stopping the civil war carnage in Syria, according to a senior U.S. official, and noted that his top diplomat, Lavrov, would soon be visiting the United States for a previously scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“Will you see him?” Putin asked Trump, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private talks.

“Yes,” Trump replied.

Lavrov’s itinerary had him going nowhere near Washington — 4,100 miles away in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he and Tillerson would be attending a meeting of the Arctic Council, the group of countries that have territory in the Arctic region. Putin glossed over that detail with Trump, however, and once he agreed to a face-to-face meeting with Lavrov, the Russian minister changed his plans to jet first to Washington.

For the Kremlin, a private audience with the president was a major opportunity to show the world that U.S.-Russia relations were normalizing.

Since the crisis in Ukraine, when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and sent troops into breakaway eastern Ukraine, the United States has sought to show that it is not conducting “business as usual with Russian figures,” said Andrew Weiss, a Russia specialist who is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

[Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador]

But Putin and his deputies, Weiss said, have “sought whenever they could to lessen that international isolation and demonstrate, ‘See, we’re back in the family of nations, and we’re all going to get back to business again.’ ”

Trump on Tuesday said that his meeting with Lavrov was “very, very successful” and that it was a precursor to “a lot of great success over the next coming years” in fighting global terrorism.

Trump’s advisers insisted that the president did nothing wrong.

“What the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he’s engaged,” national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Tuesday.

In one important respect, the Trump administration’s hand might have been forced. After Putin received Tillerson in Moscow last month — meeting privately with the secretary of state for two hours at the Kremlin — the United States owed reciprocity to Russia in the form of an audience with Trump for Tillerson’s Russian counterpart, Lavrov. Rejecting Putin’s request for a Trump-Lavrov meeting would have represented a breach in diplomatic tradition.

Never mind the United States’ growing list of grievances with Russia — which includes the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election to help elect Trump, as well as Moscow’s refusal to rein in support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid that country’s civil war and humanitarian crisis.

U.S. officials moved forward regardless to orchestrate Lavrov’s meeting with Trump. Weiss said that “throws out the very limited leverage we have with the Russians, and makes it look like we’re softies.”

The meeting took place the morning of May 10 in the Oval Office, the very symbol of presidential power, and White House aides took pains to keep the plan from leaking to reporters. It was not until the president’s daily schedule was released about 10:30 p.m. on May 9 that the Lavrov meeting was confirmed.

The date was set before Trump knew he would be firing James B. Comey as FBI director on the afternoon of May 9. The president’s advisers knew the optics would be bad politically, one of them said, but calculated that the fallout would be just as bad if Trump abruptly canceled on Lavrov, so he kept the appointment.

There was no photo availability for Lavrov pulling up at the White House driveway, as is typical for arriving foreign dignitaries. The meeting was considered “closed press,” meaning that the White House press pool was not allowed to enter the Oval Office for what is known as a photo spray, which usually lasts for a minute or two.

Instead, the U.S. and Russian officials who negotiated the visit agreed in advance that the meeting would be documented only by one official photographer from each delegation. A few hours before the meeting, according to a White House official, some of Trump’s aides wondered why they could not bring in the press corps and were told it had been “predetermined” that there would be no access.

The two photographers took pictures at the start of the meeting and then left the room. White House aides said they were under the impression that the Russian photographer in attendance was on Lavrov’s staff, and were angry when they later saw the photos published online by Tass, the state-owned Russian news agency.

Source: washingtonpost

Pretend Clinton did what Trump has done

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Imagine what would have happened had a President Hillary Clinton abruptly fired the man overseeing an investigation of her campaign’s ties to a hostile foreign government.

Imagine if the firing came, according to The New York Times, weeks after Clinton had asked the man to drop a probe of a close associate who had lied about conversations with that nation’s ambassador.

TrumpImagine, further, what would have happened had she invited the ambassador and foreign minister of that hostile government to the Oval Office at the request of their autocratic leader, closed the meeting to U.S. journalists, and claimed to have been tricked when the foreign adversary’s media arm released chummy photos from the meeting.

And then imagine that she had used the meeting to share classified intelligence with the envoys.

Republicans in Congress and conservative news outlets would undoubtedly be clamoring for investigations, if not impeachment. After all, Clinton’s critics spent years trying to make a capital case out of the Benghazi tragedy, then pounded her careless handling of sensitive information through her use of a private server for State Department emails.

Let President Trump try to work with Russia
Now, many of those formerly apoplectic Republicans are shrugging off Trump’s behavior — his campaign’s suspicious ties to the Russian government, his dismissal of FBI Director James Comey and his sharing of classified information with two high-level Russian officials — with only a modest sense of annoyance.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., allowed that it would be nice to have “a little less drama” from the White House. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., compared the Trump White House to “kiddie soccer” (an insult to youth soccer leagues). “It is what it is,” added Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

What is it? How about a breathtaking degree of ignorance, incompetence, immaturity and impulsiveness? Trump’s disclosure of classified intelligence would put anyone but a president in legal jeopardy. He has harmed national security by raising questions among allies about whether they should cooperate with the United States and trust America to keep secrets. And he has used the powers of the presidency to attempt to impede a credible investigation into how he came to be president.

Rather than trying to make excuses for the president, Republicans should be providing leadership, staying true to their oaths of office, and serving as credible checks on Trump’s excesses. Even before getting briefed on the latest outrages, they should demand that the next FBI director be a non-partisan career professional, not a politician who could be co-opted by the administration.

They should also get serious about their own fact-finding investigations. Even before Trump’s disclosure of sensitive information and Tuesday’s report in The Times that the president asked Comey to close down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, their intelligence committees already had at least three angles to pursue: the degree to which Russia interfered with last year’s election, its coordination (if any) with the Trump campaign, and the circumstances surrounding Comey’s ouster.

The work of the House Intelligence Committee has been farcical. The Senate Intelligence Committee has shown more promise, but it might need to be replaced with a select committee with more resources and a higher profile.

The most credible criminal investigation would come from a Justice Department special counsel. The decision on whether to appoint such a person is up to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but congressional Republicans should make clear that they would have no objection.

Had Clinton been elected and done a 10th of the things Trump has done, the calls from the right for her removal would be deafening, louder even than the “lock her up” shouts during the presidential campaign.

It’s time for GOP lawmakers to demand more accountability and more competence from their president, whose suitability for office grows ever more tenuous.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

Source: usatoday

Timex IQ+ Move review: Fitness band with a traditional touch

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reviewNEW DELHI: If one goes by sales figures, it appears that wearables technology still has miles to go before it hits mass adoption. Amongst several wearable devices in the market, fitness bands are the ones that are finding more takers than other devices. These appeal to health-savvy users. Also, the fact that many of these devices are in the affordable range too works for them.

The well-known watch brand Timex too recently launched a hybrid wearable device — Timex IQ+ Move. The Timex IQ+ Move is a regular looking smartwatch with added capabilities of a fitness tracker. The IQ+ Move is priced at Rs 9,995, which is slightly more than some of the offerings by competing brands such as Fitbit, Xiaomi and others. We have been using the new Timex IQ+ Move since sometime now and here’s how it fares in our tests.

Design

The Timex IQ+ Move could very easily be mistaken for a regular analogue watch. There are absolutely no signs of a fitness band on it. The model we received came with a dark blue coloured silicone band and a 41mm circular metal case with a main dial and a smaller secondary dial to track the daily progress. There’s a crown on the side to set the time.

For those who are used to wearing watches with rubber or silicone bands might not find much difference while using it. However, those who are used to metal and leather bands could find it annoying at times as the silicone material makes the skin difficult to breathe. We would’ve appreciated it if the watch came with a detachable band.

What could also bother most wearers is the silicon band’s ability to attract dust and lint. However, it is the best for a sportsperson or someone who works out on a daily basis. It goes without saying that the Timex IQ+ Move is sweat and water resistant. It can work even at 50 metres underwater. So you don’t need to think twice before going for a swim.

Although Timex has given its best shot in making the IQ+ Move look like a classic analogue watch, it is understandably thicker than usual at 13mm due to its massive battery and a bunch of sensors stuffed inside. The overall aesthetics stay simple and minimal. There is no fancy groove design or a rotational circular screen bezels on the case. And don’t expect any smart features in it as well.

Performance

The performance of the Timex IQ+ Move completely relies on its sensors and their accuracy. There’s a companion app too where the cumulative results gathered by the fitness band are shown. Downloading the Timex Connect app and setting it up is a cakewalk. Unfortunately, it is the only way how you can check your performance and if you have achieved the required goals or not. You can also get a rough idea of how far are you from the required target by looking at the sub-dial but that’s a rough estimate.

The Timex Connect app is available on both App Store and Google Play and can be setup via Bluetooth. Like other fitness bands and smartwatches, you would have to keep the band connected to the smartphone or the tablet at all times if you want to sync the band anytime with the app. But you can stay offline too and sync the IQ+ Move later manually by connecting them over Bluetooth and pressing the fitness band’s crown for five seconds.

review2While setting up the app you are asked for the device which you are wearing, set up both the dials on the watch, feed in your name, gender, birth date, height, weight and bed time. What we liked is the fact that there is an option to customise which goal you have to see on which dial. For instance, the main dial’s seconds handle can be configured to show one of the specific goals.

The sub-dial can either show you the steps goal or the distance covered goal. The second hand in the dial besides showing the seconds can also be configured to show the date, steps and the distance covered. As it has been always the case, you also get to set your own goals while setting up the companion app.

As for the updates the app includes a section called ‘Check for Updates’ from where it gathers the new firmware version and lets users upgrade their fitness bands from there itself. While the update takes place, the watch should be kept within the Bluetooth range of the handset.

What might leave you in disappointment is that the Timex IQ+ Move has no fluorescent dials to view in low-light situations. However, the company has a baked in solution for that as well. The fitness band comes with company’s own INDIGLO light up technology which turns on the background light inside the dial to highlight the seconds, minutes and the sub dial.

As for the battery, the Timex IQ+ Move has a long lasting one as it won’t bother you for months. Timex claims that the fitness band’s battery can last for up to a year.

Source: timesofindia

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro: Good on looks, smooth on performance

Samsung Samsung recently launched its Galaxy C7 Pro smartphone in India. Priced at Rs 27,990, the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro falls not-so-crowded Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 range. While there are plenty of options available in the under Rs 20,000, the choice is relatively limited in the plus-Rs 20,000 range.

So what does one expect from a phone when spending over Rs 25,000? Good design, lasting battery, sturdy build and of course, overall smooth performance.

Does the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro checks all these boxes right? Read our review to find out…

Design

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro is available in Gold and Navy Blue colour variants, and the effort put in by the company is evident in the premium design, look and feel of the smartphone.

The front panel of the C7 Pro is dominated by a bright and vibrant display, below which lies a Home button with integrated fingerprint sensor. There are two capacitive navigation keys which are backlit. The Samsung branding lies right between the display and the earpiece. A selfie camera and LED flash are also placed on the front panel.

Flipping over, you’ll see the back panel with the Samsung branding. The primary camera lies right above it, along with the LED flash. The back panel also comes with striped antenna lines on the top and bottom.

The volume rocker is on the left edge, while the power button and SIM tray lie on the right. The bottom edge has a USB Type-C charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack and the speaker grilles.
Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro has a sturdy build quality and comes with a matte finish that adds to its premium design. In a nutshell, we really liked the look and feel of the smartphone.

Now let’s talk about the display. We have always liked the displays of Samsung’s smartphones, and the Galaxy C7 Pro didn’t disappoint us either.

The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display of the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro comes with 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 protection. The colours are bright and vibrant, while the projected images are sharp. Even when using the smartphone under direct sunlight, we didn’t notice any distortion or anything like that. The display is a little reflective, but it’s not too much of a problem.

We can say that the display of Galaxy C7 Pro lives up to the standard of other Samsung smartphones. It’s definitely one of the positive aspects of the smartphone.

Performance

Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and is powered by a 2.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, coupled with 4GB of RAM. The phone offers 64GB of internal storage and can support microSD cards of up to 256GB in size.

Samsung2 For imaging duties, the smartphone has a 16MP primary camera and a 16MP front-facing shooter. All major connectivity options such as 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, USB Type-C and 3.5mm audio jack are included.
During our testing, the overall performance of the smartphone was smooth and we quite liked our experience with it. Apps open quickly and multitasking isn’t a problem either. We switched between different apps and used multiple Google Chrome tabs at the same time, and the C7 Pro handled everything well.

Call quality was also good and we had no problems in making/receiving calls, even in areas with low signal reception.

Another big plus of the Galaxy C7 Pro is that we didn’t encounter any heating issues while using the smartphone. We used Maps for navigation, played games and browsed social media, but the smartphone didn’t get heat up even once.
In addition, we played several YouTube videos and witnessed no lag at all. Audio output was clear as well.

Coming to the 3,300mAh battery of the Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro, it lasted us all day even after heavy usage. We used the smartphone to enjoy videos, browse the web and even accessing some battery-draining apps like Facebook. In addition, our usage involved phone calls and some gaming as well. With all this, Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro’s battery lasted till the end of the day.

The fingerprint sensor mostly does a good job, but there were a couple of instances when it didn’t unlock the smartphone instantly.

Coming to the cameras of the Galaxy C7 Pro, they did a good job in both well-lit as and dimly-lit areas. The primary camera managed to take very clear and sharp images, with accurate colour reproduction. We couldn’t notice any pixelation or distortion even after zooming in on the images.

But the images taken from the selfie camera, while good, could not match up with those clicked by the primary camera.

If you’re a selfie-fan, the Galaxy C7 Pro might not be the one for you. Otherwise, the camera experience on this smartphone is really good.

We also ran a few benchmark tests on the C7 Pro. While it scored 936 (single-core) and 4404 (multi-core) on GeekBench 4, AnTuTu score was 67473.

Source: timesofindia