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Internet service in Pakistan to remain suspended for indefinite period: PTA

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  • Decision taken on the directives of interior ministry, says PTA.
  • Twitter, Facebook services are also down for many users.
  • Videos of violent protests were shared on social media platforms.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Wednesday said that internet services across the country will remain suspended for an indefinite period.

The telecommunication authority confirmed that the decision to block mobile broadband services was taken on the directives of the Ministry of Interior.

A day earlier, the services were shutdown as protests erupted after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest in Al-Qadir Trust case.

Moreover, major social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are also reportedly down for many users in Pakistan as they are unable to access these platforms since yesterday.

Videos of violent protests were shared widely on social media platforms after unrest flared up following the former prime minister’s arrest, after which mobile broadband services were blocked.

The PTA spokesperson had said that the regulatory authority was also receiving reports of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, being down. However, these reports could not be confirmed, she added.

Sources told Geo News that “unwarranted” clips of the protests were shared on social media after which various platforms started experiencing disruptions around 8pm on Tuesday, causing problems for citizens.

“With Pakistan already ranking among the world’s worst countries in terms of Internet access, Tuesday’s outage was nothing short of a shambolic turn of events. It is unfortunate that whenever the political climate in the country heats up, such a measure is viewed to be a necessity, when in truth it robs the people of the fundamental right of access to information that is guaranteed by law,” Sameen Daud Khan, a  researcher who worked on Pakistan’s Internet Landscape 2022 report told Geo.tv.

What had happened?

Khan was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) a day earlier by Rangers personnel in connection with a warrant issued by the National Accountability Bureau in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

Following his arrest, the PTI urged supporters all across Pakistan to protest and “block all roads, close all shops”.

Subsequently, PTI workers held protests in several cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, and Mardan.

In Karachi, demonstrators clashed with the police near Nursery. They threw stones at and set fire to police vehicles, tore down street lights, and damaged a bus. There were reports that police fired teargas shells at the protesters.

Protesters also caused damage to public property in other cities, including Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Hours later, many users in Pakistan reported that they were unable to access social media sites in the evening.

According to the outage-tracking website, Downdetector.com, users were unable to log in to their accounts on all three platforms, meaning they also couldn’t post or view anything.

A large number of smartphone users also complained about their WhatsApp which is not working both on desktops and cellphones.

Moreover, as per reports, internet speed is also slow for many users across the country.

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China is constructing the majority, namely two-thirds, of the world’s new wind and solar power plants.

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According to a report by the U.S.-based think tank Global Energy Monitor (GEM), China is constructing 339 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale wind and solar energy, which accounts for 64% of the total global capacity. The project pipeline of the first-place country is more than eight times that of the second-place U.S., which has 40 GW.

The authors of the paper stated that China’s rapid progress makes it highly achievable to treble renewable capacity by the end of 2030, even without more hydropower. They urge China to increase its climate ambitions in its upcoming promises to the United Nations next year.

Last week, the Sydney-based think tank Climate Energy Finance said that Beijing is on course to achieve its own target of installing 1,200 GW of wind and solar power by this month, which is six years ahead of schedule.

According to GEM research analyst Aiqun Yu, China’s coal-centric power grid is facing difficulties in accommodating the rapid growth of renewable energy sources. To address this issue, there is a need for the accelerated expansion of transmission lines.
However, a different analysis published by Carbon Brief on Thursday revealed that the recent increase in capacity has resulted in renewable generation reaching unprecedented levels.

According to the analysis conducted by Lauri Myllyvirta, senior fellow at Asia Society Policy Institute, China’s electricity generation from coal reached a record low of 53% in May. At the same time, a record high of 44% of electricity came from non-fossil fuel sources. This suggests that China’s carbon emissions may have reached their highest point last year, assuming this trend continues.

The percentage of coal decreased from 60% in May 2023.

In May, solar power generation increased to 12% and wind power generation reached 11%, primarily due to China’s significant addition of new capacity. The remaining non-fossil fuel electricity was comprised of hydropower at 15%, nuclear power at 5%, and biomass at 2%.

In May, the power industry in China experienced a 3.6% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions, which account for almost 40% of the country’s total emissions, due to the increased generation of renewable energy.

“According to Myllyvirta, if China continues to rapidly deploy wind and solar energy, it is expected that the country’s CO2 emissions will continue to decrease, with 2023 being the year when emissions reach their highest point and start to decline.”
In May, solar power generation had an unprecedented increase of 78% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 94 terrawatt hours (TWh).

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, there was a 29% rise in electricity generation from solar power. However, this figure does not account for the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, which represents approximately half of the total solar electricity produced.

The new analysis computed the wind and solar power production by utilizing data on the capacity of power generation and the utilization figures provided by the China Electricity Council, an industry body.

Wind power generation increased by 5% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of 83 TWh. This growth was primarily driven by a 21% increase in capacity. However, the overall utilization of wind power was lower due to fluctuations in wind conditions. Hydropower production experienced a significant increase of 39% compared to the previous year, during which it was adversely affected by a drought.

Gas-fired output experienced a decline of 16%, while power generation from coal decreased by 3.7%, despite a 7.2% growth in overall energy consumption compared to the previous year.

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Put an end to unwelcome WhatsApp groups! View the latest feature

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The instant messaging service WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, has introduced a new function to improve group chat security.

Referred to as “context cards,” this feature aims to address the common problem of online group fraud by preventing members from being added to groups by strangers.

According to a press statement from WhatsApp, the global deployment of context cards has already started and is anticipated to be accessible to all users in the upcoming weeks.

When users receive group invites from contacts who are not saved on their phone, the context card function offers more details. The card has information about the group’s originator as well as specifics like the group’s founding date and a succinct statement of its goals. Users are able to join new groups with greater knowledge thanks to this additional background.

Context cards seem to offer very little information, but their purpose is to give consumers enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not to accept a group invitation. In addition, people who have doubts about the authenticity of the invitation have the option to report, block, or unsubscribe from groups.

The new feature was unveiled by WhatsApp CEO Cathcart on his channel within the app, with a focus on how it could shield users from common online group scams.

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WhatsApp introduces a new function called ‘Forward to channel’.

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Beta testers who update their WhatsApp beta for Android will have access to this new functionality. It will be made available to the general public in the next few days.

WABetaInfo’s research reveals that WhatsApp is currently working on a feature that allows channel owners to forward and exchange messages and media on their channels. This functionality enables users to effortlessly distribute messages, photographs, videos, and GIFs from their individual conversations directly to their channels.

Currently, it seems that the instant messaging software is conducting a trial of this modification with the general public, as certain users in the beta program now have the opportunity to try out the new channel forwarding option.
The report’s screenshot disclosed that certain beta testers now have the ability to test a feature that allows them to forward messages, photographs, videos, and GIFs to their channels.

In addition, channel owners have the capability to directly distribute their media from other applications, such as the file explorer, to their channels without any intermediate processes.

This facilitates the rapid sharing of content, ensuring that channels remain current and enhancing interaction. The addition of the new functionality that enables channel owners to promptly distribute messages, photographs, videos, and GIFs straight to channels represents a significant advancement. By eliminating needless procedures, it greatly simplifies the management of channels.

Users are no longer need to store media on their devices and manually submit it to the channel. Alternatively, users have the option to immediately transmit content from their own conversations or distribute media from other applications such as file explorers or the photo library directly to their channels.

According to WABetaInfo, they feel that it decreases the amount of time and energy that channel owners typically dedicate to producing and uploading material, resulting in a more instant connection with channels.

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