Benin Startup Builds Low-Cost Computers

BloLab is converting plastic jerricans into computers using recycled components.. Anne Nzouankeu visited the startup in Cotonou, Benin in this story narrated by Moki Edwin Kindzeka.

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Media: ‘Quad’ Countries to Agree on Secure Microchip Supply Chains

Leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia will agree to take steps to build secure semiconductor supply chains when they meet in Washington next week, the Nikkei business daily said Saturday, citing a draft of the joint statement.

 

U.S. President Joe Biden will host a first in-person summit of leaders of the “Quad” countries, which have sought to boost co-operation to push back against China’s growing assertiveness. The draft says that in order to create robust supply chains, the four countries will ascertain their semiconductor supply capacities and identify vulnerability, the Nikkei said, without unveiling how it had obtained the document.

 

The statement also says the use of advanced technologies should be based on the rule of respecting human rights, the newspaper said on its web site.

 

The draft does not name China, but the move is aimed at preventing China’s way of utilizing technologies for maintaining an authoritarian regime from spreading to the rest of the world, the Nikkei said.

 

The United States and China are at odds over issues across the board, including trade and technology, while Biden said in April his country and Japan, a U.S. ally, will invest together in areas such as 5G and semiconductor supply chains.

 

No officials were immediately available for comment at the Japanese foreign ministry.

 

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‘Devious Licks’ Videos of Damage, Thefts Bedevil US Schools 

Kids across the U.S. are posting TikTok videos of themselves vandalizing school bathrooms and stealing soap dispensers and even turf from football fields, bedeviling school administrators seeking to contain the viral internet trend. 

The “devious licks” challenge that swept social media this week is plaguing principals and school district administrators who already must navigate a bitter debate over requiring masks to keep COVID-19 in check. Some schools have had to more closely monitor or even shut down bathrooms, where much of the damage is occurring. 

No section of the nation appears to have been untouched. In northeastern Kansas, Lawrence High School had to close several bathrooms after students pried soap dispensers off the walls. Then, students tried to steal the “closed” signs, so staff is guarding the bathrooms, even the closed ones, said 17-year-old student Cuyler Dunn, relaying Friday what he called “total destruction.” 

“Some of them were to the point where they were borderline unusable,” said Dunn, who is also the co-editor-in-chief of Lawrence High’s student newspaper. “Locks on stalls had been taken off.”

Ice Bucket Challenge

While social media did spawn the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for research into the condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it also led to a rash of poisonings several years ago when teenagers swallowed pods of laundry detergent for the “Tide Pods challenge.” The latest trend follows close upon a viral challenge to walk on stacks of milk crates.

Some school officials are reluctant to say much about “devious licks,” which is slang for theft. In Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson Kathleen Miller emailed that officials were aware of several incidents of property damage and that “disciplinary action has and will be taken.” 

Outside of that statement, Miller noted that the school district was saying little to avoid “encouraging copy-cat behavior.” 

A spokesperson said TikTok was removing “devious licks” content and redirecting hashtags and search results to its guidelines to discourage the behavior and that it doesn’t allow content that “promotes or enables criminal activities.”

While some school officials say they don’t know what caused the “devious licks” challenge to go viral, others chalk it up to a desire for peers’ attention or adolescents’ lack of impulse control. Some incidents have involved smashing things, like bathroom mirrors and sinks.

Tradition of senior pranks

Dunn said that his Kansas high school has a tradition of senior pranks that led someone to set chickens loose inside last year. But he said some students are starting to worry about the repercussions of “devious licks,” not only for kids who get caught but also for big events as the school tries to prevent thefts. His newspaper wrote about “devious licks” this week.

He said a detour sign taken from another school after a football game is in Lawrence High’s parking lot and that students even stole a small section of artificial turf off the school’s football field.

“The general vibe around the student body is that this is just another one of those funny things that high schoolers do,” he said. “But it has started to reach a point where it is starting to get in the way of things.” 

Damage displayed on social media

Northeast of Sacramento, California, the Rocklin school district has seen students destroy soap dispensers, damage faucets, plug toilets with whole rolls of toilet paper and tear mirrors and railings off walls, then share videos and photos on social media.

Spokesperson Sundeep Dosanjh said that the damage can close bathrooms for extended periods, an issue potentially made worse by “national supply chain disruptions” that have arisen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Police in the central Florida city of Bartow, located about 50 miles east of Tampa, said they arrested a 15-year-old student who vandalized a new building’s bathroom by tearing off soap dispensers and leaving one in a sink. 

“He said he did it because of this TikTok challenge and he wanted to be cool,” police Chief Bryan Dorman said. 

In the Cherry Creek school district serving an affluent Denver neighborhood and nearby trendy suburbs, the district sent parents of middle and high school students a letter warning that kids who are caught face being suspended, could be forced to make restitution and might have their cases forwarded to police.

Warnings sent to parents

Districts in Miami and Scottsdale, Arizona, sent similar warnings to parents.

Cherry Creek spokesperson Abbe Smith said its schools had seen “a handful” of incidents of damage to or theft of soap dispensers, toilet paper dispensers and fire extinguishers. 

In southern Alabama, Robertsdale High School’s principal said a student there is facing criminal charges after he was caught on surveillance cameras swiping a fire extinguisher. He also was suspended from school. 

Punishments aren’t effective

In Wichita, Kansas, the district has found that punishments like suspensions aren’t effective in stopping such behavior, and community service is the more likely response, said Terri Moses, its director of safety services. The district’s middle schools have lost soap dispensers, paper towels and toilet paper. 

And, she said, the district warns students that what they post now could hurt their chances of getting jobs in their early 20s. 

“What they’re putting out on social media is giong to be with them for a long time,” Moses said. “We’re trying very hard to relay that.” 

 

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Navalny App Gone from Google, Apple Stores on Russia Vote Day

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s Smart Voting app disappeared from Apple and Google stores Friday as Russians began voting in a three-day parliamentary election marked by a historic crackdown on the opposition.

“Removing the Navalny app from stores is a shameful act of political censorship,” top Navalny ally Ivan Zhdanov said on Twitter.

The app promoted an initiative that outlines for Navalny supporters which candidate they should back to unseat Kremlin-aligned politicians.

Russia had accused Google and Apple of election interference, demanding this week that they remove the app from their stores. 

Exiled Navalny ally Leonid Volkov said the companies had “caved in to the Kremlin’s blackmail.”

“We have the whole of the Russian state against us and even big tech companies,” Navalny’s team said on Telegram.

In a message from prison, Navalny had urged supporters to download the app, which aims to help Russians to vote out candidates from President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party in the upcoming polls. 

On the eve of the vote his team urged Russian voters to back Communist Party candidates. 

Navalny – who was detained in January – has this year seen his organizations declared “extremist” and banned, while all his top aides have fled.

Russia’s media regulator has since barred dozens of websites linked to Navalny including his main website navalny.com. 

 

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China Gets Serious About Cracking Down on Youth Online Gaming

With China’s new restrictions on minors playing online games, the global gaming industry wonders what’s next. Michelle Quinn reports.

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Clive Sinclair, Computing Pioneer, Dies at 81

Sir Clive Sinclair, the British inventor who pioneered the pocket calculator and affordable home computers, died Thursday at age 81.

He died at his home in London a decade after being diagnosed with cancer, U.K. media said, prompting tributes from many who fondly recalled their first experience of computing in the early 1980s.

He was still working on inventions last week “because that was what he loved doing,” his daughter Belinda Sinclair told the BBC. “He was inventive and imaginative, and for him, it was exciting and an adventure. It was his passion.”

Sinclair’s groundbreaking products included the first portable electronic calculator in 1972.

The Sinclair ZX80, which was launched in 1980 and sold for less than £100 at the time, brought home computing to the masses in Britain and beyond.

Other early home computers such as the Apple II cost far more, and Sinclair’s company was the first in the world to sell more than a million machines.

Follow-up models included the ZX Spectrum in 1982, which boasted superior power and a more user-friendly interface, turbocharging the revolution in gaming and programming at home.

British movie director Edgar Wright, whose latest film, Last Night in Soho, premiered in Venice this month, paid tribute to Sinclair on Twitter.

“For someone whose first glimpses of a brave new world were the terrifying graphics of 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81, I’d like to salute tech pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair,” he said. “He made 21st century dreams feel possible. Will bash away on the rubber keys of a Spectrum in your honour. RIP.”

Tom Watson, former deputy leader of Britain’s opposition Labor Party, tweeted: “This man changed the course of my life.

“And arguably, the digital age for us in the UK started with the Sinclair ZX80, when thousands of kids learnt to code using 1k of RAM. For us, the Spectrum was like a Rolls-Royce with 48k.”

However, not all of Sinclair’s inventions were a runaway success.

The Sinclair C5, a battery-powered tricycle touted as the future of eco-friendly transport, became an expensive flop after it was launched in 1985.

But in retrospect, it was ahead of its time, given today’s attention on climate change and the vogue for electric vehicles.

“You cannot exaggerate Sir Clive Sinclair’s influence on the world,” gaming journalist and presenter Dominik Diamond tweeted. “And if we’d all stopped laughing long enough to buy a C5, he’d probably have saved the environment.”

Born in 1940, Sinclair left school at 17, becoming a technical writer creating specialist manuals.

At 22, he formed his first company, making mail-order radio kits, including what was then the world’s smallest transistor radio.

Other ventures included digital watches and an early version of a flat-screen television.

He was knighted in 1983.

Ironically, in a 2013 interview with the BBC, Sinclair revealed that he did not use computers.

“I don’t like distraction,” he explained. “If I had a computer, I’d start thinking I could change this, I could change that, and I don’t want to. My wife very kindly looks after that for me.” 

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Банки в Україні зараз переважно стійкі та добре капіталізовані – НБУ

2020 році стрес-тестування не проводилося через пандемію COVID-19

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UN Rights Chief Calls for Moratorium on Artificial Intelligence Systems

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, is calling for a moratorium on the sale and use of artificial intelligence systems, which she says pose a serious risk to human rights. The High Commissioner’s report, which will be submitted to the U.N. human rights council, provides an analysis of how advances in digital technologies are affecting people’s human rights.   The report argues that artificial intelligence, or AI, can be a force for good, but also can be overly intrusive and have negative, even catastrophic, effects on people’s right to privacy and other human rights. Peggy Hicks, director of thematic engagement at the U.N. Human Rights Office, says AI systems can be faulty and have embedded biases. These, she says, can lead to discrimination that might jeopardize job prospects or welfare and social security benefits.   She says there are numerous cases of people being treated unjustly because of the faulty use of AI in law enforcement, national security, and criminal justice and border management areas. “We see AI being used for profiling and suspect identification,” she said. “Biometric technology, such as facial recognition and emotional recognition, are being used, including remotely in real time to identify people — with documented cases of erroneous identification and disproportionate impact on certain groups, often minorities.”   The report notes biometric technologies increasingly are being used by governments, international organizations, and technology companies to identify people in real time and from a distance. This potentially allows unlimited tracking of individuals. Hicks says the High Commissioner specifically recommends a moratorium on the use of remote biometric recognition technology in public spaces given the serious threats to public freedoms associated with such surveillance. “Without immediate and far-reaching shifts and how we address AI deployment and development, the existing harms will multiply at scale and with speed,” she said. “And the worst part of it is, we will not even know the extent of the problem because there is so little transparency around artificial intelligence and its use.”   U.N. rights chief Bachelet says there needs to be much greater transparency by companies and states in how they are developing and using AI. She says the power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is its ability to invade their privacy and violate human rights on an enormous scale and with virtually no visibility. 
 

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Долар перебуває поблизу річних мінімумів проти гривні

Торги на міжбанківському ринку завершилися на рівні 26 гривень 63,5–65,5 копійки

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US Accuses Russia of Stonewalling on Cybercrime

U.S. warnings to Russian President Vladimir Putin over shielding cybercriminals holed up in Russia appear to have made little impact, according to top U.S. law enforcement and cyber officials. “There is no indication that the Russian government has taken action to crack down on ransomware actors that are operating in the permissive environment that they’ve created there,” Paul Abbate, deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Tuesday at an intelligence summit just outside Washington.  “We’ve asked for help and cooperation with those who we know are in Russia, who we have indictments against, and we’ve seen no action,” Abbate said. “So, I would say that nothing’s changed in that regard.” U.S. President Joe Biden has twice called on the Russian leader to take action against cybercriminals operating out of Russia — first at a summit in June in Geneva and again in a phone call a month later. FILE – President Joe Biden, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the Villa la Grange, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.”I made it very clear to him that the United States expects when a ransomware operation is coming from his soil, even though it’s not sponsored by the state, we expect them to act if we give them enough information to act on who that is,” Biden told reporters following the July phone call.Biden, Putin Discuss Ransomware Attacks From Russia Biden warns of consequences if attacks continueSince the initial talks, senior White House officials have noted a decrease in ransomware attacks, though they have been hesitant to attribute the change to any action by Moscow. “The present absence of criminal activity should not be confused with solid policing,” U.S. National Cyber Director Chris Inglis told an audience later Tuesday. “There’s still a monetary incentive and possibly a geopolitical incentive to allow that to come back,” he said, pushing back against calls for the U.S. to go on the offensive. “There is a sense that we can perhaps fire some cyber bullets and kind of shoot our way out of this. That will be useful in certain circumstances if we have a clear shot at a cyber aggressor and it could take them offline,” Inglis said. “That’s not going to affect the leadership that allows this to happen.”  “We have to figure out what is it that matters to Putin and the oligarchs and how do we change their decision calculus,” he added. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any role in a series of ransomware and cyberattacks against U.S. companies and infrastructure. And following the Biden-Putin call in July, it issued a statement supporting collaboration on cybersecurity, calling for such efforts to “be permanent, professional and nonpoliticized and should be conducted via special communication channels … and with respect to international law.” New: Discussions w/#Russia on #cyber continue, per Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber Anne Neuberger@POTUS “looking for action” she says, adding US must also focus on “doing everything we can to lock our digital doors”— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) September 2, 2021The U.S. blames Russia or Russian-based cyber actors for a series of high-profile hacks and ransomware attacks, including the December 2020 hack of SolarWinds, a U.S.-based software management company, and for the May 7 ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline operator in the U.S.  U.S. officials have blamed the GRU for targeting the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 elections and the pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines against the coronavirus.  US, Britain Warn of Russian ‘Brute Force’ Cyber CampaignUS officials urge agencies and organizations to take basic precautions as a first step in fighting backAsked Tuesday whether the U.S. has reached the point where it is ready to take action against Russia, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command deferred to the White House. “That’s obviously for the president to decide,” CYBERCOM’s General Paul Nakasone said. “But those options certainly will be provided for his consideration.” VOA’s Masood Farivar contributed to this report.
 

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Шмигаль вважає, що Україна виконала всі вимоги для отримання траншу від МВФ

Голова уряду підтвердив, що з 18 вересня в Україні працюватиме «фінальна» місія МВФ

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Apple Plugs ‘No-Click’ Phone Hack Attributed to Pegasus Spyware

Apple released a critical software patch to fix a security vulnerability that researchers said could allow hackers to directly infect iPhones and other Apple devices without any user action.
 
Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the security issue was exploited to plant spyware on a Saudi activist’s iPhone. They said they had high confidence that the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm, Israel’s NSO Group, was behind that attack.
 
The previously unknown vulnerability affected all major Apple devices — iPhones, Macs and Apple Watches — the researchers said. NSO Group responded with a one-sentence statement saying it will continue providing tools for fighting “terror and crime.”
 
It was the first time a so-called “zero-click” exploit — one that doesn’t require users to click on suspect links or open infected files — has been caught and analyzed, the researchers said. They found the malicious code on September 7 and immediately alerted Apple. The targeted activist asked to remain anonymous, they said.
 
“We’re not necessarily attributing this attack to the Saudi government,” said researcher Bill Marczak.  
 
Citizen Lab previously found evidence of zero-click exploits being used to hack into the phones of Al-Jazeera journalists and other targets but hasn’t previously seen the malicious code itself.
 
Although security experts say that average iPhone, iPad and Mac user generally need not worry — such attacks tend to be limited to specific targets — the discovery still alarmed security professionals.
 
Malicious image files were transmitted to the activist’s phone via the iMessage instant-messaging app before it was hacked with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which opens a phone to eavesdropping and remote data theft, Marczak said. It was discovered during a second examination of the phone, which forensics showed had been infected in March. He said the malicious file causes devices to crash.
 
Citizen Lab says the case reveals, once again, that NSO Group is allowing its spyware to be used against ordinary civilians.
 
In a blog post, Apple said it was issuing a security update for iPhones and iPads because a “maliciously crafted” PDF file could lead to them being hacked. It said it was aware that the issue may have been exploited and cited Citizen Lab.  
 
In a subsequent statement, Apple security chief Ivan Krstić commended Citizen Lab and said such exploits “are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users.” He noted, as he has in the past, that such exploits typically cost millions of dollars to develop and often have a short shelf life.  
 
Apple didn’t respond to questions regarding whether this was the first time it had patched a zero-click vulnerability.
 
Users should get alerts on their iPhones prompting them to update the phone’s iOS software. Those who want to jump the gun can go into the phone settings, click “General” then “Software Update,” and trigger the patch update directly.
 
Citizen Lab called the iMessage exploit FORCEDENTRY and said it was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices. It urged people to immediately install security updates.
 
Researcher John Scott-Railton said the news highlights the importance of securing popular messaging apps against such attacks.
 
“Chat apps are increasingly becoming a major way that nation-states and mercenary hackers are gaining access to phones,” he said. “And, it’s why it’s so important that companies focus on making sure that they are as locked down as possible.”
 
The researchers said it also undermines NSO Group’s claims that it only sells its spyware to law enforcement officials for use against criminals and terrorists and audits its customers to ensure it’s not abused.
 
“If Pegasus was only being used against criminals and terrorists, we never would have found this stuff,” said Marczak.
 
Facebook’s WhatsApp also was allegedly targeted by an NSO zero-click exploit. In October 2019, Facebook sued NSO in U.S. federal court for allegedly targeting some 1,400 users of the encrypted messaging service with spyware.
 
In July, a global media consortium published a damning report on how clients of NSO Group have been spying for years on journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, and people close to them, with the hacker-for-hire group directly involved in the targeting.  
 
Amnesty International said it confirmed 37 successful Pegasus infections based on a leaked targeting list whose origin was not disclosed.One case involved the fiancee of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi just four days after he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA attributed the murder to the Saudi government.
 
The recent revelations also prompted calls for an investigation into whether Hungary’s right-wing government used Pegasus to secretly monitor critical journalists, lawyers and business figures. India’s parliament also erupted in protests as opposition lawmakers accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of using NSO Groups’ product to spy on political opponents and others.
 
France also is trying to get to the bottom of allegations that President Emmanuel Macron and members of his government may have been targeted in 2019 by an unidentified Moroccan security service using Pegasus.
 
Morocco, a key French ally, denied those reports and is taking legal action to counter allegations implicating the North African kingdom in the spyware scandal. 

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Hospitals Turn to Robots to Free Up More Time for Patients

A robot called Moxi is helping nurses and hospital staff focus more on patients by taking care of menial tasks. The VOA’s Deana Mitchell has the story.   

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Мінфін розмістив ОВДП майже на 1,2 мільярда гривень

Як інформує міністерство, «після тривалої перерви» воно повернулося «до розміщення 3-місячних інструментів і підвищило ставки, зважаючи на ринкову ситуацію»

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Кабмін планує продовжити політику підвищення мінімальної зарплати – Шмигаль

За словами прем’єр-міністра, мінімальна заробітна плата в Україні зросте на 500 гривень до кінця року

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