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Businesses

Samsung Plans To Use 100% Renewable Energy by 2020 (fortune.com) 60

Samsung said this week it plans to transition to entirely renewable energy in its offices, factories, and operational facilities in the United States, China, and Europe by 2020. From a report: The company has also joined the World Wildlife Fund's Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles and the Rocky Mountain Institute's Business Renewables Center. In its home in Korea, Samsung plans to install 42,000 meters of solar panels at its headquarters, and will continue to add approximately 21,000 meters of solar arrays and geothermal power generation facilities beginning in 2019 at its satellite campuses in Pyeongtaek and Hwaseong.
China

Chinese Cyber-Espionage Group Hacked Government Data Center (bleepingcomputer.com) 36

Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: A Chinese-linked cyber-espionage unit has hacked a data center belonging to a Central Asian country and has embedded malicious code on government sites. The hack of the data center happened sometime in mid-November 2017, according to a report published by Kaspersky Lab earlier this week. Experts assigned the codename of LuckyMouse to the group behind this hack, but they later realized the attackers were an older Chinese threat actor known under various names in the reports of other cyber-security firms, such as Emissary Panda, APT27, Threat Group 3390, Bronze Union, ZipToken, and Iron Tiger.
Australia

Chinese Ride-Sharing Giant Didi Chuxing Picks Its First English-Speaking Nation: To Enter Australia on June 25 (cnet.com) 69

From a report: Ever since outperforming Uber in its home base of China, speculation has mounted that ride-hailer Didi Chuxing would eventually branch out to the rest of the world. Didi's first launch in an English-speaking country comes on June 25, it was announced Thursday, when it'll start operations in Melbourne, Australia. The company has already begun recruiting local drivers. While you might not have heard of it, Didi is China's most popular ride-hailing service, and in 2016 absorbed Uber China in a deal worth around $35 billion.
China

China's Surveillance State Will Soon Track Cars (wsj.com) 113

China is establishing an electronic identification system to track cars nationwide, according to a report on WSJ, which cites records and people briefed on the matter. From a report: Under the plan being rolled out July 1, a radio-frequency identification chip for vehicle tracking will be installed on cars when they are registered. Compliance will be voluntary this year but will be made mandatory for new vehicles at the start of 2019, the people said. Authorities have described the plan as a means to improve public security and to help ease worsening traffic congestion, documents show, a major concern in many Chinese cities partly because clogged roads contribute to air pollution. But such a system, implemented in the world's biggest automotive market, with sales of nearly 30 million vehicles a year, will also vastly expand China's surveillance network, experts say. That network already includes widespread use of security cameras, facial recognition technology and internet monitoring.
Power

China's Ambitions To Power the World's Electric Cars Took a Huge Leap Forward This Week (reuters.com) 93

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Future Mobility Corporation (FMC), the Chinese parent company behind electric car start-up Byton, has placed an order for a paint shop capable of handling 150,000 cars per year, German supplier Duerr said on Wednesday. China's Byton, a newcomer headed by the former head of BMW's i8 program, has already released plans for a premium electric SUV vehicle, the latest in a series of China-backed electric autonomous prototypes. Byton has financial backing from Chinese state-owned carmaker FAW Group and the country's dominant battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL) This is just one of the stories this week relating to China and the electric car industry. MIT Technology Review adds: In a public offering on June 11 in Shenzhen, battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) raised nearly $1 billion to fund ambitious expansion plans, and its stock has been shooting up every day since. Thanks largely to the company's new plants, China will be making 70 percent of the world's electric-vehicle batteries by 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Just seven years later, CATL has built up the biggest lithium-ion manufacturing facilities in the world, according to BNEF. The company can crank out around 17 gigawatt-hours of lithium-ion cells annually, placing it just ahead of Korea's LG Chem, the Tesla and Panasonic partnership, and China's electric-vehicle giant BYD. Flush with capital from its offering, CATL plans to build two new plants and expand existing facilities, pushing its capacity to nearly 90 gigawatt-hours by 2020. [...] Notably, it's the only Chinese battery company so far to line up deals to supply foreign automakers, including BMW, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

China

Senate Will Try To Reverse ZTE Deal Via a Must-Pass Defense Bill (politico.com) 138

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Senate leaders agreed Monday to include language in the annual defense spending bill that would reverse the Trump administration's decision to save Chinese telecommunications company ZTE after it was caught violating the terms of a 2017 penalty agreement by making illegal sales to Iran and North Korea. The language will be part of an amendment in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, a $716 billion defense policy bill, H.R. 5515 (115).

If the Senate amendment becomes law, it would automatically reinstate the seven-year prohibition until Trump has certified to Congress that ZTE has met certain conditions. It also would ban all U.S. government agencies from purchasing or leasing telecommunications equipment and/or services from ZTE, a second Chinese telecommunications firm, Huawei, or any subsidiaries or affiliates of those two companies. The amendment language "prohibits the federal government from doing business with ZTE or Huawei or other Chinese telecom companies" and puts the company back on the sanctions list and "holds ZTE accountable for violating their previous commitment," Cotton said.
The senators supporting the amendment include Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer and two Republican Senators -- Sen Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). "I and obviously every other senator believes the death penalty is the appropriate punishment for their behavior," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told reporters after Ross briefed senators on the department's latest ZTE action. "They're a repeat bad actor that should be put out of business. For eight years, ZTE was able to run wild and be able to become the fourth-largest telecom company in the world." If the Senate amendment becomes law, "I would expect there wouldn't be a ZTE," Cotton added.
China

Chinese City Gets 'Smartphone Zombie' Walkway (bbc.com) 55

An anonymous reader shares a report: A city in northern China has introduced a special pedestrian lane on one of its roads, exclusively for slow-walking smartphone users, it's reported. According to the Shaanxi Online News, the pavement along the Yanta Road in Xi'an has now got itself a special lane for "phubbers" -- people who stare at their phones and ignore everything else around them. The lane is painted red, green and blue, and is 80cm wide and 100m long. Pictures of smartphones along the route distinguish it from an ordinary pedestrian lane. Shaanxi Online says that a large shopping mall, which looks onto the street, had been pushing to have the lane for a month. It says that cars often come onto the pavement, which is a busy channel for pedestrians who might not be paying attention to their surroundings. News website The Paper interviewed locals, who welcomed the introduction of the lane. Wei Xiaowei said it was the first time he had seen such a thing and said he thought it was "pretty good." "Everybody walking along here thinks that it's very safe; at the side of the road, there are cars, and the vehicles also come onto here, and sometimes only just avoid you."
Businesses

The World Isn't Prepared for Retirement (bloomberg.com) 319

An anonymous reader writes: Most online quizzes are relatively mindless, promising to reveal which vegetable, sandwich or rock band best represents your personality. That was not the case for a short online test given to 16,000 people in 15 countries this year. It revealed just how unprepared a good chunk of the world is for retirement. The three-question test, given as part of the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2018, measured how well people understand basic financial concepts. Many of the participants failed the quiz, with big potential consequences for their future security.

Beyond the sobering lack of financial literacy, there were some rather curious data in Aegon's annual survey, published on Tuesday. For example, some 20 percent of workers surveyed in China envisioned spending retirement with a robot companion. But before we get to that, take a look at this question -- which only 45 percent of people around the world got right: Q. Do you think the following statement is true or false? "Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund."

The possible answers? True, false, do not know and refuse to answer. Sixteen percent of people got it wrong. "Do not know" was chosen by 38 percent. In the U.S., 46 percent of workers got it right. Good for you, America -- though Germany beat you handily. (The answer, in case you were wondering, is false.) It was an inflation question that had the highest percentage of wrong answers, however. More than 20 percent of workers didn't grasp how higher inflation hurts their buying power. Given that declining health was the most-cited retirement worry, at 49 percent, and health care is an area (in the U.S., especially) with high cost inflation, well, that makes the subject something older folks should have down cold.

Earth

Some Recycling Is Now Being Re-Routed To Landfills (wral.com) 165

"Thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of U.S. cities and towns -- including several in Oregon -- have gone to landfills," reports the New York Times. Slashdot reader schwit1 summarizes their report: One big reason: China has essentially shut the door to U.S. recyclables. The Times notes that about a third of recyclables gets shipped abroad, with China the biggest importer. But starting this year, China imposed strict rules on what it will accept, effectively banning most of it. That, the Times reports, has forced many recycling companies who can't find other takers to dump recyclables into landfills.
"Recyclers in Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have also scrambled to find alternatives," reports the Times, though most major U.S. cities aren't affected, and countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia are now importing more materials.

But at least some recycling companies are simply stockpiling material, "while looking for new processors, or hoping that China reconsiders its policy."
AI

Secret Pentagon AI Program Hunts Hidden Nuclear Missiles (reuters.com) 40

Slashdot reader drdread66 shares this article from Reuters: The U.S. military is increasing spending on a secret research effort to use artificial intelligence to help anticipate the launch of a nuclear-capable missile, as well as track and target mobile launchers in North Korea and elsewhere. The effort has gone largely unreported, and the few publicly available details about it are buried under a layer of near impenetrable jargon in the latest Pentagon budget. But U.S. officials familiar with the research told Reuters there are multiple classified programs now under way to explore how to develop AI-driven systems to better protect the United States against a potential nuclear missile strike.

If the research is successful, such computer systems would be able to think for themselves, scouring huge amounts of data, including satellite imagery, with a speed and accuracy beyond the capability of humans, to look for signs of preparations for a missile launch, according to more than half a dozen sources. The sources included U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the research is classified. Forewarned, the U.S. government would be able to pursue diplomatic options or, in the case of an imminent attack, the military would have more time to try to destroy the missiles before they were launched, or try to intercept them.

Reuters calls it "one indicator of the growing importance of the research on AI-powered anti-missile systems," adding "The Pentagon is in a race against China and Russia to infuse more AI into its war machine, to create more sophisticated autonomous systems that are able to learn by themselves to carry out specific tasks."

One official told Reuters that an AI prototype for tracking missile launchers is already being tested.
Transportation

Tesla Short-Sellers Lose $1 Billion (cnbc.com) 458

An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: A bullish call from a Wall Street analyst capped off a rough week for Tesla short sellers, with Nomura Instinet advising clients that the electric car maker's shares could rally 42 percent over the next year. The stock rose 1.7 percent Friday and is now up 10 percent on the week. One of the most shorted stocks in the United States, Tesla shares cost investors betting against the company more than $1 billion in losses on Wednesday alone after the stock rallied 9.7 percent. Adding to the short woes, the stock is up 13.5 percent in June and up 21 percent since April. More than 30 percent of Tesla's floating stock is currently sold short, according to FactSet.
Last week long-time Open Source advocate Bruce Perens (Slashdot reader #3,872) argued this is fueling Musk's anger at the press: [A] great many investors are desperate to see Tesla's stock reach a much lower price soon, or they'll be forced to buy it at its present price in order to fulfill their short positions, potentially bankrupting many of them and sending some out of the windows of Wall Street skyscrapers. These investors are desperately seeding, feeding, and writing negative stories about Tesla in the hope of depressing the stock price. Musk recently taunted them by buying another 10 million dollars in stock, making it even more likely that there won't be enough stock in the market to cover short positions. If that's the case, short-sellers could end up in debt for thousands of dollars per shorted share -- as the price balloons until enough stockholders are persuaded to sell. Will short-sellers do anything to give Tesla bad press? You bet.... Musk is stuck with a press that feeds negative stories about Tesla seeded by short-sellers, business competitors and the petroleum industry, and even the U.S. Government...

Musk is far from the only one who suffers from this abuse. I was personally involved while the Linux developers were hounded by bad press for years from Forbes and lesser entities, backed by a large software company we all know (and who is, surprisingly, funding more Open Source these days), based on SCO's unfounded lawsuit. Time proves them wrong, but don't expect them to admit it, nor should you hold your breath for an "I'm sorry".

And on Musk's plan to rate the credibility of news sites, Perens writes that "The world would be a better place if this was done honestly, with integrity, and well. Musk is one who has improved the world by going where conventional wisdom said he'd fail..."
Hardware

US Once Again Boasts the World's Fastest Supercomputer (zdnet.com) 85

The US Department of Energy on Friday unveiled Summit, a supercomputer capable of performing 200 quadrillion calculations per second, or 200 petaflops. Its performance should put it at the top of the list of the world's fastest supercomputers, which is currently dominated by China. From a report (thanks to reader cb_abq for the tip): Summit, housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was built for AI. IBM designed a new heterogeneous architecture for Summit, which combines IBM POWER9 CPUs with Nvidia GPUs. It has approximately 4,600 nodes, with six Nvidia Volta Tensor Core GPUs per node -- that's more than 27,000. The last US supercomputer to top the list of the world's fastest was Titan, in 2012. ORNL, which houses Titan as well, says Summit will deliver more than five times the computational performance of Titan's 18,688 nodes.
United States

China Hacked a Navy Contractor and Secured a Trove of Highly Sensitive Data on Submarine Warfare (washingtonpost.com) 112

Ellen Nakashima and Paul Sonne, reporting for The Washington Post: Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare -- including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020, according to American officials. The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, R.I., that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry. The officials did not identify the contractor. Taken were 614 gigabytes of material relating to a closely held project known as Sea Dragon, as well as signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit's electronic warfare library. The Washington Post agreed to withhold certain details about the compromised missile project at the request of the Navy, which argued that their release could harm national security.
Businesses

How E-commerce With Drone Delivery is Taking Flight in China (economist.com) 28

An anonymous reader shares a report: Late on a Monday morning the village of Zhangwei is quiet. Chickens scratch and cluck at the side of the road. Workers use wooden spades to spread grain on the highway to dry, using half its width so that traffic can still pass on the other side. Yet at the community centre at the village's heart, two objects hint at a feat of ultra-modern logistics about to unfold: a circle of green astroturf laid down in the central courtyard, and a billboard on the front of the building bearing the logo of JD.com, China's second-largest online retailer.

A low whirr breaks the stillness as a spiky dot appears on the horizon. The drone arrives overhead with a roar, hovers for a moment, then lowers itself towards the green circle like a mantis, three sets of propellers churning the air into whorls of straw and dust. Slung beneath it is a red cardboard box branded with JD's cheery dog mascot. Just a few feet above the ground, the drone drops the box then zips back up into the sky and disappears. The spectacle is over in 20 seconds.

It is a link in a new kind of logistics chain, the world's first operational drone-delivery programme. While Amazon, an American company, has put out numerous promotional videos on its drone-delivery plans, it will not start commercial operations until at least 2020. Meanwhile, JD.com has spent the past year building a real drone-delivery network covering 100 villages in rural China with 40 drones. Zhangwei currently receives a couple of drops each day, each box containing several packages ordered through JD's shopping app. Thanks to JD's drones, which operate autonomously with no human guidance but are monitored remotely, villagers in Zhangwei can expect delivery on the same day that they place an order, like urban shoppers in Beijing, New York or London.

China

Trump Strikes Deal With China's ZTE on Sanctions (usatoday.com) 145

The Trump administration struck a deal Thursday with a Chinese telecom that will allow it to do business with U.S. companies even though it violated sanctions. From a report: China's ZTE will pay a $1 billion penalty and will embed a U.S. appointed compliance team, terms that are similar to those President Trump discussed last month when he revealed that Chinese leaders had asked him to look into the matter. "At about 6 a.m. this morning, we executed a definitive agreement with ZTE," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC in an interview Thursday. "And that brings to a conclusion this phase of the development with them." Trump asked the Commerce Department to investigate the restrictions on ZTE in April following a request from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Commerce imposed a seven-year ban after the company sold American-made products to Iran, a violation of U.S. sanctions.
Space

Majority of Americans Believe It Is Essential That the US Remain a Global Leader in Space (pewinternet.org) 286

Pew Research: Sixty years after the founding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), most Americans believe the United States should be at the forefront of global leadership in space exploration. Majorities say the International Space Station has been a good investment for the country and that, on balance, NASA is still vital to the future of U.S. space exploration even as private space companies emerge as increasingly important players. Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say it is essential for the U.S. to continue to be a world leader in space exploration, and eight-in-ten (80%) say the space station has been a good investment for the country, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted March 27-April 9, 2018. These survey results come at a time when NASA finds itself in a much different world from the one that existed when the Apollo astronauts first set foot on the moon nearly half a century ago. The Cold War space race has receded into history, but other countries (including China, Japan and India) have emerged as significant international players in space exploration. Another finding in the report: Most Americans would like NASA to focus on Earth, instead of Mars.
China

Micron, Samsung, Hynix Investigated By China Over Antitrust Violations (yahoo.com) 38

hackingbear shares a report from Yahoo Finance: Micron Technology Inc., the largest U.S. maker of computer memory chips, said Chinese regulatory authority representatives visited its offices in that country, potentially opening another front in a growing trade dispute between the world's two largest economies. Chinese media reported that Samsung and SK Hynix also received visits from local regulators seeking information. Micron got about half of its sales from China last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. China has been spending heavily on attempts to boost its domestic supply of semiconductors and lessen a bill that has exceeded the cost of oil imports. "In 2015, Qualcomm, another U.S. chip giant currently under antitrust investigation in Europe, paid near $1 billion to settle its antitrust matter in China," notes Slashdot reader hackingbear.
Privacy

German Spy Agency Can Keep Tabs On Internet Hubs, Federal Court Rules (phys.org) 54

Earlier this week, a federal court in Germany threw out a challenge by the world's largest internet hub, the De-Cix exchange, against the tapping of its data flows by the BND foreign intelligence service. What this means is that the country's spy agency can continue to monitor major internet hubs if Berlin deems it necessary for strategic security interests. From a report: The operator had argued the agency was breaking the law by capturing German domestic communications along with international data. However, the court in the eastern city of Leipzig ruled that internet hubs "can be required by the federal interior ministry to assist with strategic communications surveillance by the BND." De-Cix says its Frankfurt hub is the world's biggest internet exchange, bundling data flows from as far as China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa, which handles more than six terabytes per second at peak traffic.

De-Cix Management GmbH, which is owned by eco Association, the European internet industry body, had filed suit against the interior ministry, which oversees the BND and its strategic signals intelligence. It said the BND, a partner of the US National Security Agency (NSA), has placed so-called Y-piece prisms into its data-carrying fibre optic cables that give it an unfiltered and complete copy of the data flow. The surveillance sifts through digital communications such as emails using certain search terms, which are then reviewed based on relevance.

Government

Signs of Sophisticated Cellphone Spying Found Near White House, US Officials Say (washingtonpost.com) 85

A federal study found signs that surveillance devices for intercepting cellphone calls and texts were operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in the Washington area last year. From a report: A Department of Homeland Security program discovered evidence of the surveillance devices, called IMSI catchers, as part of federal testing last year, according to a letter from DHS to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on May 22. The letter didn't specify what entity operated the devices and left open the possibility that there could be alternative explanations for the suspicious cellular signals collected by the federal testing program last year. The discovery bolsters years of independent research suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies use sophisticated interception technology to spy on officials working within the hub of federal power in the nation's capital. Experts in surveillance technology say that IMSI catchers -- sometimes known by one popular brand name, StingRay -- are a standard part of the tool kit for many foreign intelligence services, including for such geopolitical rivals as Russia and China.
Bitcoin

Chinese President Xi Jinping Calls Blockchain a 'Breakthrough' Technology (cnbc.com) 82

Even as cryptocurrencies continue to draw skepticism from some, at least the underlying technology, blockchain, has found yet another high-profile admirer: Chinese President. Xi Jinping said in a speech this week that blockchain has "breakthrough" applications. From a report: "A new generation of technology represented by artificial intelligence, quantum information, mobile communications, internet of things and blockchain is accelerating breakthrough applications," he said Monday, according to a translation of his remarks. Xi also emphasized the need for China to focus on technological development and become the global center of science and innovation.

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