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International press review Extrema Ratio May 8, 2023

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including geopolitcs, military, cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law & national security.


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China

Saltwire

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Monday it is imperative to stabilise Sino-U.S. relations after a series of "erroneous words and deeds" threw ties back into a deep freeze.

The Guardian

For more than a decade, Beijing has been trying to reduce its reliance on the dollar, motivated by risks emerging from the US economy – such as the financial crash of 2008 – and the desire to boost its own sphere of influence.

The Sun Daily

President Xi Jinping will host a two-day summit with the leaders of five Central Asian nations next week, Beijing said on Monday, as China moves to increase its influence in the region. Leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are expected to attend the China-Central Asia Summit from May 18 to 19, said China's foreign ministry.

Reuters

HSBC (HSBA.L) has agreed to buy out its China fund management joint venture partner, two people familiar with the matter said, as the Asia-focused bank pushes ahead with expansion in the world's second-largest economy.

CBS News

CNN Asia

China’s foreign minister said Monday a “series of erroneous words and deeds” by the United States had placed relations between the two superpowers on “cold ice,” but stabilizing ties is a “top priority.” Qin Gang made the comments during a meeting in Beijing with US ambassador Nicholas Burns, their first since a dispute over a Chinese balloon shattered efforts to mend ties earlier this year.

Newsweek

Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. secretary of state and national security adviser, said he believes the Russia-Ukraine war is coming to a turning point and expects negotiations by the end of the year thanks to recent efforts made by China.

Channel News Asia

China's exports were expected to have risen again in April, albeit at a less robust pace than a month earlier, a Reuters poll showed, supported by unfulfilled orders after last year's COVID disruptions though slowing global growth is darkening the outlook.

U.S. Think Tank Reports Prompted Beijing to Put a Lid on Chinese Data The Wall Street Journal Lingling Wei A recent campaign to restrict overseas access to China-based data sources was partly triggered by a drumbeat of U.S. think tank reports on sensitive Chinese practices that alarmed Beijing, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. Increasingly worried about perceived Western threats, Beijing in recent weeks expanded an anti-espionage law and stepped up pressure on foreign companies specializing in collecting information, such as auditors, management consultants and law firms. In addition, access to Chinese databases including Shanghai-based Wind Information has tightened for foreign think tanks, research firms and other nonfinancial entities.

The Jerusalem Post

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China urges the EU to avoid taking the "wrong path," otherwise it will take firm action to safeguard its rights and interests.

U.S. sanctions drive Chinese firms to advance AI without latest chips The Wall Street Journal Karen Hao and Raffaele Huang U.S. sanctions are spurring Chinese tech companies to accelerate research to develop cutting-edge artificial intelligence without relying on the latest American chips. A Wall Street Journal review of research papers and interviews with employees found that Chinese companies are studying techniques that could allow them to achieve state-of-the-art AI performance with fewer or less powerful semiconductors. They are also researching how to combine different types of chips to avoid relying on any one type of hardware.

China gave 190 chip firms US$1.75 billion in subsidies in 2022 as it seeks semiconductor self-sufficiency South China Morning Post Ann Cao The Chinese government doled out more than 12.1 billion yuan (US$1.75 billion) in subsidies to 190 domestically listed semiconductor companies in 2022, industry data shows, as Beijing seeks to counter escalating US sanctions targeting advanced chip-making.

Chinese students in U.S. wary of going home under new spy law Nikkei Asia Masahiro Okoshi With the school year winding down across the U.S., Chinese students attending universities here are taking increased precautions to avoid getting into trouble -- or possibly even detained -- after returning home for summer break. Li (not his real name), who studies international affairs, said he will clear any content that could potentially raise red flags from his smartphone before returning to China. "I will just delete some of the specific information, like the photos, videos" and group chats, he said.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping urges country to seize opportunities in artificial intelligence to modernise industry South China Morning Post Che Pan Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the importance of developing China’s ability in artificial intelligence for the second time in less than a fortnight, as the Sino-US tech race in AI and semiconductors ratchets up.

Beijing’s ‘men in black’ step up scrutiny of foreign corporate sleuths Financial Times Kathrin Hille, Joe Leahy, Primrose Riordan, Eleanor Olcott, Edward White and Demetri Sevastopulo Raids on consultancies reveal mounting risks of performing due diligence in China. Police have also visited one of the China offices of expert network Capvision, according to at least four people familiar with the matter, as part of an emerging number of raids on international consultancies operating in the world’s second-largest economy. Multiple sources said checking supply chains to ensure they did not involve forced labour from Xinjiang, a big supplier of textiles, was one such problematic area. Advice on how to restructure technology supply chains to reduce dependency on Chinese sources was another.

Xinhua

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, on Monday met with representatives to the 10th Conference for Friendship of Overseas Chinese Associations at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Xinhua

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns in Beijing on Monday.

China Military

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Li Shangfu met with Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi, Chief of the Naval Staff of Pakistani Navy, in Beijing on the morning of May 8.

The combination of the Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft and a Long March-7 Y7 carrier rocket was vertically transferred to the launching area on Sunday.

The cargo spacecraft will be launched in the near future at an appropriate time, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

BRI

USA

  • The United States and China acknowledged the need to stabilize Sino-U.S. relations after a series of "erroneous words and deeds" deepened tensions. China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang Beijing met with U.S. ambassador Nicholas Burns in Beijing, where Qin reportedly “stressed in particular that the United States must correct its handling of the Taiwan issue and stop the hollowing out of the ‘one China’ principle,” Reuters reports.

  • U.S., China Hold First High-Level Bilateral Meeting in Weeks. At today’s meeting in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang asked U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns (Bloomberg) to serve as a “bridge” between the two countries, China’s foreign ministry said. High-level exchanges between Washington and Beijing have ebbed in recent months following the U.S. downing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon.

MilitarySpot

The Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office’s Predictive Analytics and Decision Assistant leverages artificial intelligence software to transform logistics data into actionable predictive maintenance alerts.

The Air Force has designated PANDA as the System of Record for Condition Based Maintenance Plus and predictive maintenance, the first such designation for the RSO.

Top US spy says Chinese invasion halting Taiwan chip production would be 'enormous' global economic blow Reuters Jonathan Landay A Chinese invasion of Taiwan could potentially halt production by the world's largest advanced semiconductor chip maker, wiping out up to $1 trillion per year from the global economy per year in the first few years, the top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday.

Bloomberg

A US nuclear-armed submarine will make a publicly announced visit to South Korea within months, prompting debate about the wisdom of a heightened public role for what’s long been known as the Navy’s “silent service.”

White House pushes tech C.E.O.s to limit risks of A.I. The New York Times David McCabe The White House on Thursday pushed Silicon Valley chief executives to limit the risks of artificial intelligence, in the administration’s most visible effort to confront rising questions and calls to regulate the rapidly advancing technology.

  • Khosla warns against slowing US AI research, cites China threat Australian Financial Review Sarah McBride and Lizette Chapman The US is locked in a high-stakes race with China to develop artificial intelligence technology and can’t afford to slow down, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said. He added that efforts to moderate the rate of progress, such as the hiatus in research advocated by leaders including Elon Musk, are misguided or even self-motivated.

Senator asks big banks how they're going to stop AI cloned voices from breaking into accounts VICE Joseph Cox The chairman of the Senate committee that provides oversight of the banking sector has sent letters to the CEOs of the country’s biggest banks asking what they plan to do about the looming threat of fake voices created with artificial intelligence being used to break into customers’ accounts.

Anduril’s new tech could allow single operator to control ‘hundreds’ of autonomous systems Breaking Defense Jaspreet Gill Anduril Industries today unveiled a new software platform that the company claims will allow a single operator to control a range of autonomous systems, which company executives say will allow the Pentagon to push past limitations caused by budget and operator constraints.

TikTok advertisers stick by the app amid threat of U.S. ban Reuters Sheila Dang Advertisers are committed to continue spending on TikTok due to its immense popularity with users despite threats of a potential ban in the U.S. over national security concerns, ad experts said.

FTC plans to bar Meta from monetizing teens’ data after privacy lapses The Washington Post Cat Zakrzewski The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday announced a plan to bar Facebook parent company Meta from monetizing the data of children and teens under the age of 18, citing allegations that the company misled parents about their ability to control their children’s communications in its Messenger Kids app.

New Twitter rules expose election offices to spoof accounts Associated Press Ali Swenson Tracking down accurate information about Philadelphia’s elections on Twitter used to be easy. The account for the city commissioners who run elections, @phillyvotes, was the only one carrying a blue check mark, a sign of authenticity. But ever since the social media platform overhauled its verification service last month, the check mark has disappeared. That’s made it harder to distinguish @phillyvotes from a list of random accounts not run by the elections office but with very similar names. The election commission applied weeks ago for a gray check mark — Twitter’s new symbol to help users identify official government accounts – but has yet to hear back from the Twitter, commission spokesman Nick Custodio said.

This ransomware gang used the emergency broadcast system to tell university students they've been attacked TechRadar Sead Fadilpašić Ransomware operators are always looking for novel ways to pressure their victims into paying their demands, and now we’ve seen the first time that an emergency broadcast system has been used for that purpose. A ransomware group calling itself Avos recently compromised Bluefield University, a private institution in Virginia, housing roughly 900 students. In late April this year, the institution suffered a ransomware attack that forced it to postpone all exams.

Janes

From rapidly deploying from US Navy ships to keeping track of civilians, the US Marine Corps (USMC) wants to keep its non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO) running smoothly through its latest training exercise in Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.

Americas

  • We now know which U.S. military units are headed to the Mexico border this week to meet the White House's demand for 1,500 more troops at America's southwestern doorstep:

  1. The Marine Corps' 2nd Marine Regiment, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.;

  2. USMC Combat Logistics Battalion 2, also out of Camp Lejeune;

  3. And the Army's 93rd Military Police Battalion, out Fort Bliss, Texas.

Their tasks are to consist of "detection and monitoring support" as well as "data entry [and] warehousing support" in order to free up Customs and Border Patrol officials for an anticipated rise in interactions with migrants, NORTHCOM said in a statement Friday. The units are expected to arrive by Wednesday, which is just before the pandemic-related health restrictions known as Title 42 finally expire just before midnight Friday morning. That expiration is expected to bring with it a surge of migration into the U.S. from Latin America and the surrounding region. The newly arriving Marines and soldiers "will not be permitted to support migrant processing and escort duties or other activities that involve direct participation in civilian law enforcement activities," and they won't "be responsible for property seized from migrants, or require direct contact with migrants," according to NORTHCOM. However, immigration reporter Molly O'Toole pointed out last week that that policy has not always been followed as closely as U.S. officials prefer to portray.

CTV News

Most Canadians support increasing defence spending to reach the two per cent target for NATO allies, according to a national survey conducted by Nanos for CTV News.

In 2021, Canada spent around 1.4 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on national defence, falling short NATO’s two per cent target. The country has not achieved this defence spending target since the 1980s.

Asia

  • The leaders of South Korea and Japan on Sunday agreed to deepen efforts to address security challenges from North Korea and China. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with his South Korean counterpart, President Yoon Suk Yeol, in Seoul. The two leaders emphasized the growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea and the deepening rivalry between the United States and China. Kishida’s two-day trip follows on the heels of Yoon’s trip to Tokyo in March. The shuttle diplomacy is a welcome sign for Washington after regular exchanges between Tokyo and Seoul ended in 2011 over historical differences. Choe Sang-Hun and Motoko Rich report for the New York Times.

  • Japan/South Korea: President Kishida Fumio became the first Japanese leader to visit South Korea (Nikkei) in twelve years, highlighting the warming ties between the two nations. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol visited Tokyo in March.

  • Afghan, Pakistani Governments Agree to Cooperate on Trade, Security. Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government yesterday agreed to boost bilateral trade and improve security (AP) along their countries’ shared border.

  • Uzbekistan: President Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced that Uzbekistan will hold a snap presidential election on July 9 (Reuters), saying he is seeking a new mandate to carry out reforms. A constitutional amendment passed in April allows him to run for two additional seven-year terms, up from the current five-year limit.

TheDefencePost

Taiwan is seeking US support for the development of its next-generation fighter aircraft.

Taipei announced the fighter project in 2017, hoping to conduct the first flight in 2025.

“When it comes to the development of the next generation fighter, we hope the United States supports Taiwan to develop it itself, including the engine, avionics, control systems, environmental controls, and so on, which are all an opportunity for Taiwan-US cooperation,” Reuters quoted head of Aerospace Industrial Development Corp Hu Kai-hung as saying.

Rediff

Mr Modi might have questions to ask himself on the most formidable strategic challenge before India that he inherited from the UPA: The triangulation between China and Pakistan.

The failure to break out of it, or even loosen it a bit, is something to reflect on, notes Shekhar Gupta.

The Shillong Times

In a shocking fraud committed in connivance with revenue officials, the Indian Air Force’s emergency airfield (Jahaz Ground) in Ferozepur Cantonment has been sold off to private persons.

Latestly

"The centre reflects the role of IAF in various wars through murals and memorabilia and is equipped with informative exhibits like augmented reality, virtual reality, hologram, flying simulators, aero engines, electro-mechanical enclosures, multimedia and interactive Kiosks highlighting various facets of the IAF," the official added.

S. Korea, U.S. to hold working-level cybersecurity talks Yonhap News South Korea and the United States will hold working-level talks on cybersecurity this week in Seoul, the defense ministry here said Sunday, amid the allies' efforts to counter evolving North Korean threats from multiple domains. The eighth session of the director-general-level Cyber Cooperation Working Group is set to take place Monday and Tuesday. It marks the first in-person session in four years following a hiatus caused largely by the COVID-19 pandemic. The two sides plan to discuss their cybersecurity policies, current trends of cyberthreats and joint efforts to strengthen cybersecurity training, according to the ministry.

Janes

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has begun to deploy the OZZ-5 mine-countermeasures (MCM) unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) on its Mogami-class frigates. This was confirmed by a representative from the second-of-class, JS Kumano , during a visit by Janes to the ship while it was at Changi Naval Base for the IMDEX 2023 naval exhibition.

Channel News Asia

As Indonesia hosts the first of two Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits this year in Labuan Bajo on Tuesday (May 9), key issues on the agenda include the acceleration of negotiations on the text of a code of conduct with China.

Janes

The Ministry of Finance of Republic of Indonesia has approved a request for the country to take on up to USD2.16 billion in foreign loans to procure air independent propulsion (AIP)-capable submarines.

Asia Times

Rotting weapons, faded battlefield photos, and rough-sketched jungle maps from defeated, anti-communist, US-equipped Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) guerrillas are cherished in this northern border village.

Seetao

Pakistan is likely to use yuan to pay for crude imports from Russia, with the first 750,000 barrels expected to arrive in the country as early as June. The deal will be backed by Bank of China.

Australia

‘Crisis point’: Commonwealth hits lowest proportional R&D spend InnovationAus Brandon How Commonwealth spending on research and development as a proportion of GDP is expected to be the lowest on record this financial year, disappointing research peak bodies as attention turns to next week’s Budget. The Department of Industry, Science, and Resources is forecasting that government spend on R&D will be 0.49 per cent of GDP in financial year 2022-23. Previously, the lowest spend was 0.50 per cent of GDP in financial year 2018-19.

What impact will TikTok’s ban have on the creator economy The Australian Bianca Farmakis The end of TikTok will cause a seismic “blow to the economy and culture of Australia”, says local managing director Lee Hunter. Mr Hunter said a blanket ban on the Chinese-owned social media app – which has become a flashpoint for ­cybersecurity fears in the West – would have a “real human impact” on its users.

Channel News Asia

Australia's Labor government is set to deliver the federal budget on Tuesday (May 9), as the country faces growing pressures from rising costs of living.

It will be the government’s second budget since winning power in May last year, and follows last week’s decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to hike interest rates.

Ukraine - Russia

  • Ukraine’s military released drone footage this weekend that appeared to show the city of Bakhmut being attacked by Russian phosphorus munitions, the use of which in civilian areas is considered a war crime. It is unclear when the attack took place, but a post on Twitter by Ukraine’s defense ministry showed high-rise buildings engulfed in flames, and accused Russia of using “incendiary ammunition,” a type of ammunition containing chemicals that, upon impact with obstacles, causes blazes to ignite and rapidly spread. Other videos posted to social media showed the ground on fire and plumes of smoke. BBC analysis located the military’s footage to an area just west of Bakhmut’s city center and close to a children’s hospital. “While the analysis confirmed the attack used some kind of incendiary munitions, it could not verify the use of phosphorus,” BBC reports.

  • Russia carried out drone, missile, and air strikes on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and other cities through the night. Ukraine said its air defenses destroyed all 35 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia. Sixteen rockets hit the Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odessa regions in the last 24 hours, as well as 61 strikes and 52 rocket salvos on Ukrainian positions and populated areas. Reuters reports.

  • Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, has signaled plans to cancel his announced withdrawal from Bakhmut after receiving promises of extra ammunition. On Friday, Prigozhin announced in a post on Telegram that his group was withdrawing from the region after his men had been starved and suffered “useless and unjustified” losses as a result. However, in an audio message posted on Telegram on Sunday, Prigozhin said: “Overnight we received a combat order, for the first time in all this time. We have been promised as much ammunition and weapons as we need to continue further operations. We have been promised that everything needed to prevent the enemy from cutting us off [from supplies] will be deployed on the flank.” Reuters reports.

  • On Saturday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi voiced growing concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, now under control by Russian forces in the occupied city of Enerhodar. Grossi warned the situation was “becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous.” Due to the war, none of the plant’s six reactors are active, but the station nonetheless needs a reliable power supply for cooling systems critical to “preventing a potentially catastrophic radiation disaster.” Grossi’s comments came a day before Ukrainian authorities “said that a 72-year-old woman was killed and three others were wounded when Russian forces fired more than 30 shells at the city of Nikopol, which is almost directly opposite the plant,” David Rising reports for AP.

  • Turkey has rejected a U.S. proposal to send its Russian-made S-400 defense system to Ukraine, Turkish media reported Sunday. Yahoo News reports.

  • Wagner Group Chief Says Bakhmut Fighters Have Been Promised More Ammunition. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the commander of the Russian mercenary group, previously threatened (NYT) to withdraw his fighters from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut over a lack of supplies. Separately, Ukraine said it shot down thirty-five drones (Bloomberg) that attacked Kyiv overnight.

The New York Times

$10m is yours if you can get this guy to leave Russia Krebs on Security Chris Krebs The U.S. government this week put a $10 million bounty on a Russian man who for the past 18 years operated Try2Check, one of the cybercrime underground’s most trusted services for checking the validity of stolen credit card data. U.S. authorities say 43-year-old Denis Kulkov‘s card-checking service made him at least $18 million, which he used to buy a Ferrari, Land Rover, and other luxury items.

Europe

  • Slovakia: Caretaker Prime Minister Eduard Heger resigned (FT) yesterday and will be replaced by the central bank’s deputy governor, Ľudovít Ódor. The shake-up comes ahead of elections on September 30 and follows a series of ministerial resignations in the last week.

The Guardian

An EU plan under which all WhatsApp, iMessage and Snapchat accounts could be screened for child abuse content has hit a significant obstacle after internal legal advice said it would probably be annulled by the courts for breaching users’ rights.

Janes

Image Soft, a Finnish underwater and maritime technology company, launched on 8 May the latest version of its Underwater Surveillance System (UNWAS) designed to protect subsea cables, pipelines, and harbours.

The Jerusalem Post

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China urges the EU to avoid taking the "wrong path," otherwise it will take firm action to safeguard its rights and interests.

Russian spy network smuggles sensitive EU tech despite sanctions Financial Times Miles Johnson, Max Seddon and Chris Cook A Russian spy network has acquired sensitive technology from EU companies to fuel Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine even after a US-led crackdown on the covert smuggling ring. The network — set up to procure goods ranging from microchips to ammunition — has managed to obtain machine tools from Germany and Finland despite US sanctions imposed in March 2022, a Financial Times investigation has found.

Denmark warns of Russian spies posing as ‘journalists or business people’ The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin Denmark’s security and intelligence service has warned that last year’s expulsions of Russian intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover could result in a new wave of undercover spies posing as “journalists or business people.”

Finnish newspaper hides Ukraine news reports for Russians in online game The Guardian A Finnish newspaper is circumventing Russian media restrictions by hiding news reports about the war in Ukraine in an online game popular among Russian gamers. “While Helsingin Sanomat and other foreign independent media are blocked in Russia, online games have not been banned so far,” said Antero Mukka, the editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat. The newspaper was bypassing Russia’s censorship through the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike, where gamers battle against each other as terrorists and counter-terrorists in timed matches.

Technology industry growth stagnates, but demand for skilled workers remains high Helsinki Times The latest order backlog and personnel survey by Teknologiateollisuus ry has shown that the growth of the technology industry has stalled, while the demand for skilled workers remains strong. Although the order backlog has remained at a good level, the development of production volumes in the entire manufacturing industry in Finland has stagnated. The decline in demand in the technology industry is expected to slow down or even stop altogether this year, according to the survey.

UK

The Defense Post

The UK Royal Air Force has begun training for its future Protector RG Mk1 medium-altitude, long-altitude drone fleet in the US.

The effort supports procuring remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) that will replace the service’s MQ-9A Reaper aircraft.

TikTok tracked UK journalist via her cat's account BBC Zoe Kleinman Two days before Christmas, TikTok called London-based journalist Cristina Criddle to tell her two of its employees in China, and two in the US, had viewed user data from her personal account without her knowledge or consent. What happened to Cristina - a Financial Times technology correspondent and a friend and former colleague of mine - is what TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have consistently denied happens at all, which is why she has decided to tell BBC News about it.

  • TikTok spied on me. Why? Financial Times Cristina Criddle During the internet era that roughly began with the dominance of Google Search, most of us have implicitly traded access to our data in exchange for often marginal digital conveniences. By the time ByteDance was founded in Beijing in 2012, Google had been reading our emails over our shoulders, Amazon had been watching us shop and Twitter and Facebook had been mediating our messages to friends and foes for years. Indeed, Zhang Yiming, the millennial software engineer who set up ByteDance, modelled himself and aspects of his new company on Silicon Valley. Zhang, who briefly worked for Microsoft before going out on his own, was once fond of quoting Steve Jobs and Jack Welch.

UK and US intervene amid AI industry’s rapid advances The Guardian Dan Milmo and Alex Hern The UK and US have intervened in the race to develop ever more powerful artificial intelligence technology, as the British competition watchdog launched a review of the sector and the White House advised tech firms of their fundamental responsibility to develop safe products.

Security researcher finds trove of Capita data exposed online TechCrunch Carly Page London-based outsourcing giant Capita left a trove of data exposed online for seven years, TechCrunch has learned, just weeks after the company admitted to a data breach potentially impacting customer data. Requesting anonymity, a security researcher alerted TechCrunch to an unprotected Amazon-hosted storage bucket, which was secured by Capita last week. The AWS bucket, which the researcher said had been exposed to the internet since 2016, contained approximately 3,000 files totaling 655GB in size. There was no password on the bucket, allowing anyone who knew the easy-to-guess web address access to the files.

Africa

  • Amid continuing clashes in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, the first face-to-face “pre-negotiation talks" between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces took place on Saturday in Saudi Arabia. “Both sides have said they will discuss a humanitarian truce but not an end to the conflict. There has been no word so far about whether the meeting has taken place or who the representatives from both sides are,” BBC reports.

  • A Sudanese doctors’ union said at least one hundred people in the Darfur region died in clashes last month (AP) following the outbreak of fighting between military factions in Khartoum, a sign that the violence in Sudan’s capital could be spreading elsewhere in the country.

  • DRC: Rescuers recovered nearly four hundred bodies (BBC) following flash flooding and landslides in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last week. Authorities previously estimated that two hundred people had died.

  • Turkey will move its embassy from Sudan’s capital to Port Sudan, on the recommendation of the transitional government and Sudan army, after the Turkish ambassador’s car was hit by gunfire, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told reporters in Antalya on Saturday. “No casualties were reported and the source of the gunfire that hit Ismail Cobanoglu’s vehicle was unclear, said Turkish diplomatic sources quoted by Anadolu Agancy,” Al Jazeera reports.

Africa eyes potential bounty from space Nation After decades on the sidelines, African countries are venturing into the space industry, hoping to reap rewards in agriculture, disaster prevention and security. Ivory Coast, which recently hosted a "NewSpace Africa" conference organised by the African Union, has announced the creation of a space agency and plans to build the country's first nanosatellite by 2024.

Zimbabwe to launch gold-backed digital token as currency concerns mount Financial Times Joseph Cotterill Zimbabwe is launching gold-backed digital tokens as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government struggles to prop up the southern African nation’s inflation-wracked currency months before elections. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said the tokens would “expand the value-preserving instruments available in the economy”, a reference to a sharp drop in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar. But the planned launch throws a spotlight on another round of currency chaos driven by the ruling Zanu-PF party’s use of money printing ahead of elections this summer.

Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from overpriced internet Le Monde Marion Douet At the beginning of April, outraged Ivorian consumers launched petitions and called for a boycott. The reason for their anger? Not the price of food – inflation is affecting this West African country like many others – nor the price of fuel or electricity. Citizens were protesting a de facto increase in mobile internet rates, as the phone is the primary means of access to the web on the continent. The three operators in Côte d'Ivoire (Orange, MTN and Moov) had decreased the amount of data included in 4G packages while maintaining their prices. The decision was eventually suspended by the authorities.

Middle East

  • China, UAE Sign Three Memorandums on Low-Carbon Nuclear Power. The countries agreed to cooperate (Reuters) on nuclear energy operations, high temperature gas-cooled reactors, and nuclear fuel supply and investment. The UAE has said China will be a critical partner in its plans to transition to clean energy.

  • Iran on Saturday executed Swedish-Iranian dissident Habib Farajollah Chaab the alleged leader of the separatist group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz. In the sentencing, Tehran accused Chaab of “numerous bombings and terrorist operations,” including a 2018 attack on a military parade that killed dozens. The execution has been criticized by Sweden and human rights groups. Jon Gambrell reports for AP.

  • Two oil tankers recently seized by Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were spotted on Saturday anchored south of Bandar Abbas near a naval base in the port city in Iran’s Hormozgan province, according to satellite photos from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press. The first tanker, Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet, was seized on April 27 as it traveled through the Gulf of Oman carrying Kuwaiti crude oil for American energy firm Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, California. The second ship, Panama-flagged tanker the Niovi, was seized on Wednesday leaving a dry dock in Dubai, UAE, bound for Fujairah on the UAE’s eastern coast. Jon Gambrell reports for AP.

  • Arab League member states have agreed to reinstate Syria’s membership after over twelve years of suspension. The vote was cast on Sunday in Cairo, Egypt, during an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Egypt. Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Sunday that Syria President Bashar al-Assad was permitted to attend the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19 “if he wishes to.” Al Jazeera reports.

  • Arab League Ends Syria’s Twelve-Year Suspension. Members of the Arab League voted to readmit Syria (NYT) yesterday, lifting the suspension they handed President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 over his deadly crackdown on anti-government protests. That unrest escalated into a brutal civil war that has killed more than half a million people. In tacit acknowledgement that Assad won the war, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) encouraged countries in the region to officially begin reengaging with Syria.

  • Some Arab League countries, including Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait, had previously resisted attempts to normalize relations (FT) with Syria and called for Assad to be held accountable for alleged war crimes, but they reportedly voted in favor of readmitting Syria into the organization. Qatar remains a holdout and did not attend the vote, the Associated Press reported. Thirteen of the twenty-two Arab League member states were present.

  • On Sunday, a criminal court in Baghdad sentenced Iraqi police officer, Ahmed Hamdawi al-Kinani to death for his alleged role in the July 2020 killing of prominent Iraqi academic and security analyst Hisham al-Hashimi, according to a statement from Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council. After Sunday’s ruling, the case will be referred to the Court of Cassation, which is a judicial body that considers the ruling. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Yasmine Mosimann report for the Independent. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Yasmine Mosimann report for the Independent.

Israel seized Binance crypto accounts to 'thwart' Islamic State, document shows Reuters Tom Wilson and Angus Berwick Israel has seized around 190 crypto accounts at crypto exchange Binance since 2021, including two it said were linked to Islamic State and dozens of others it said were owned by Palestinian firms connected to the Islamist Hamas group, documents released by the country's counter-terror authorities show.

Big Tech

TikTok tracked users who watched gay content, prompting employee complaints The Wall Street Journal Georgia Wells and Byron Tau For at least a year, some employees at TikTok were able to find what they described internally as a list of users who watch gay content on the popular app, a collection of information that sparked worker complaints, according to former TikTok employees. TikTok doesn’t ask users to disclose their sexual orientation, but it cataloged videos users watched under topics such as LGBT, short for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, the former employees said. The collection of information, which could be viewed by some employees through a dashboard, included a set of affiliated users who watched those videos, and their ID numbers, they said.

Former Uber security chief Sullivan avoids prison in data breach case The Washington Post Joseph Menn Former Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan avoided prison Thursday as he was sentenced for covering up the 2016 theft of company data on 50 million Uber customers while the company was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over a previous breach.

Google rolls out passkey technology in ‘beginning of the end’ for passwords The Guardian Josh Taylor Google is moving one step closer to ditching passwords, rolling out its passkey technology to Google accounts from Thursday. The passkey is designed to replace passwords entirely by allowing authentication with fingerprint ID, facial ID or pin on the phone or device you use for authentication.

Artificial Intelligence

AI pioneer says its threat to world may be 'more urgent' than climate change Reuters Martin Coulter Artificial intelligence could pose a "more urgent" threat to humanity than climate change, AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton told Reuters in an interview on Friday. Geoffrey Hinton, widely known as one of the "godfathers of AI", recently announced he had quit Alphabet after a decade at the firm, saying he wanted to speak out on the risks of the technology without it affecting his former employer.

Writers vs AI bots is more than a Hollywood drama Financial Times John Gapper A confrontation broke out in Los Angeles this week as 11,500 writers for film and television went on strike. Screenwriters know all about confrontations: they are the second acts of three-act dramas, when the main characters face a crisis that only gets resolved at the end.

Are AI chatbots in courts putting justice at risk? Context Adam Smith, Anastasia Moloney, and Avi Asher-Schapiro Indian High Court judge Anoop Chitkara has ruled over thousands of cases. But when he refused bail to a man accused of assault and murder, he turned to ChatGPT to help justify his reasoning. He is among a growing number of justices using artificial intelligence chatbots to assist them in rulings, with supporters saying the tech can streamline court processes while critics warn it risks bias and injustice.

Misc

How technology reinvented chess as a global social network Financial Times John Thornhill When IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated the world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, some reckoned it was checkmate for humanity, as well as for the ancient sport itself. Newsweek magazine had billed the contest between the calculating machine and the then strongest player in human history as “The Brain’s Last Stand”. “Every human being who has worried about losing a job to a computer is rooting for this compact, darkly handsome 34-year-old Russian to prevail,” wrote journalist Steven Levy.

The devastating business impacts of a cyber breach Harvard Business Review Keman Huang, Xiaoqing Wang, William Wei, and Stuart Madnick Cyber risks are skyrocketing. The latest IBM Data Breach Report revealed that an alarming 83% of organizations experienced more than one data breach during 2022. According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, the total number of ransomware attacks surged by 13%, which is a rise equal to the last five years combined. The severity of the situation continues to be evident with the public disclosure of at least 310 cyber incidents that occurred in the past three months alone, according to January, February, and March data from IT Governance.


Photo: La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? (Italian)

Gabriele and Nicola Iuvinale

ASE 2023

To download the book index, preface and introduction: https://www.extremarationews.com/reuters-news


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