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China Open to Sino-US Space Cooperation

China is open to space cooperation with all nations including the United States, the heavyweights of China’s space program said on Sunday, the anniversary of China’s first satellite launch 46 years ago. “China will not rule out cooperating with any country, and that includes the United States,” said Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut.

Payload has been reserved in the Chinese space station, due to enter service around 2022, for international projects and foreign astronauts, said Yang on the occasion of the first China Space Day, an annual celebration newly designated by the government.

Upon request, China will also train astronauts for other countries, and jointly train astronauts with the European space station, Yang said. “The future of space exploration lies i international cooperation. It’s true for us, and for the United States too,” according to the senior astronaut.

His words were echoed by Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China’s manned space program. Zhou said, “It is well understood that the United States is a global leader in space technology. But China is no less ambitious in contributing to human development.”

“Cooperation between major space players will be conducive to the development of all mankind,” Zhou added.

Citing security reasons, the U.S. Congress passed a law in 2011 to prohibit NASA from hosting Chinese visitors at its facilities and working with researchers affiliated to any Chinese government entity or enterprise.

Ban remains in effect
The U.S.-dominated International Space Station, which unsurprisingly blocks China, is scheduled to end its service in 2024. China’s space station could be the only operational one in outer space, at least for a while.

Commenting on Sino-U.S. space relations earlier this week, Xu Dazhe, the head of China’s National Space Administration, cites Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster “The Martian,” in which a U.S. astronaut gets stranded on Mars and is eventually brought back to Earth by NASA, with help from China. Read the rest of this entry »

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FORBIDDEN: Magna Carta Exhibition in China Is Abruptly Moved From University

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The mysterious shift in venue took place the week before China’s president, Xi Jinping, is scheduled to make a state visit to Britain, the first by a Chinese leader in a decade.

HONG KONG — Michael Forsythe reports: China’s leaders have long behaved as if nothing could daunt them. But an 800-year-old document written in Latin on sheepskin may have them running scared.Xi-tall-Jinping-HT

“Magna Carta is widely considered a cornerstone for constitutional government in Britain and the United States, and such a system is inimical to China’s leaders, who view ‘constitutionalism’ as a threat to Communist Party rule.”

Magna Carta — the Great Charter — is on tour this year, celebrating eight centuries since it was issued in 1215 by King John of England. It is regarded as one of the world’s most important documents because of language guaranteeing individual rights and holding the ruler subject to the law.

“They fear that such ideology and historical material will penetrate deep into the students’ hearts.”

— Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident

One of the few surviving 13th-century copies of the document was to go on display this week from Tuesday through Thursday at a museum at Renmin University of China in Beijing, the British Embassy said last week on its WeChat account. But then the exhibit was abruptly moved to the British ambassador’s residence, with few tickets available to the public and no explanation given. (The document is also set to go on display at the United States Consulate in Guangzhou and at a museum in Shanghai, the embassy said.)

It is not clear why the public showing was moved off the Renmin University campus. But Magna Carta is widely considered a cornerstone for constitutional government in Britain and the United States, and such a system is inimical to China’s leaders, who view “constitutionalism” as a threat to Communist Party rule.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

In 2013, the party issued its “seven unmentionables” — taboo topics for its members. The first unmentionable is promoting Western-style constitutional democracy. The Chinese characters for “Magna Carta” are censored in web searches on Sina Weibo, the country’s Twitter-like social media site.

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Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident, said he was not surprised that the exhibit was moved off the campus. He said that Renmin University had close ties to the Communist Party’s training academy and that the principles the document stood for were contrary to the party’s. More important, he said, Chinese leaders may have been concerned that the exhibit would be popular and that “many students would flock there.” Read the rest of this entry »


Head of President Xi’s Bodyguard Unit on White House Banquet List

Jeremy Page reports: The head of the secretive bodyguard unit that protects Chinese President Xi Jinping made a rare foray into the public spotlight on Friday, being put on the guest list for the state dinner at the White House.

The official guest list for the event names “His Excellency Wang Shaojun,” identifying him as “Chief, Central Security Bureau” among the invited attendees for the dinner, which followed Mr. Xi’s summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the day.

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Maj. Gen. Wang’s appointment to the bodyguard post has never been announced publicly by Chinese authorities, although Hong Kong media reported it in March, citing anonymous sources. The White House list confirms Maj. Gen. Wang’s position within an inner circle of trusted aides and advisers to Mr. Xi who see him almost every day and play an increasingly important role in Chinese politics.

The Central Security Bureau, also known as the Central Guard Bureau, is thought to command several thousand elite troops who protect top leaders and their families, according to experts on the Chinese military.

Its commander has always occupied a politically sensitive and influential position, given the bureau’s access to the top leadership. The post is considered to have become more so since Mr. Xi launched an anticorruption campaign that has led to the detention of more than 30 generals and several senior civilian Communist Party figures. Read the rest of this entry »


You’ve Got Mail: OPM Sends Data Breach Notifications to Millions of Employees

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WASHINGTON — Millions of federal workers are starting to receive notices from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that their identity may be compromised following the recent data breach.

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WNEW has obtained a copy of the letter [click to enlarge]

Read the rest of this entry »


Martin Ford: Attention White-collar Workers: #Robots Are Coming for Your Jobs

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Interview: Martin Ford, Author Of ‘Rise Of The Robots’ 

From the self-checkout aisle of the grocery store to the sports section of the newspaper, robots and computer software are increasingly taking the place of humans in the workforce. Silicon Valley executive Martin Ford says that robots, once thought of as a threat to only manufacturing jobs, are poised to replace humans as teachers, journalists, lawyers and others in the service sector.

“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate. So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”

“There’s already a hardware store [in California] that has a customer service robot that, for example, is capable of leading customers to the proper place on the shelves in order to find an item,” Ford tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

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In his new book, Rise of the Robots, Ford considers the social and economic disruption that is likely to result when educated rise-of-robotsworkers can no longer find employment.

[Check out Martin Ford’s book “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” at Amazon.com]

“As we look forward from this point, we need to keep in mind that this technology is going to continue to accelerate,” Ford says. “So I think there’s every reason to believe it’s going to become the primary driver of inequality in the future, and things are likely to get even more extreme than they are now.”

Any jobs that are truly repetitive or rote — doing the same thing again and again — in advanced economies like the United States or Germany, those jobs are long gone. They’ve already been replaced by robots years and years ago.

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So what we’ve seen in manufacturing is that the jobs that are actually left for people to do tend to be the ones that require more flexibility or require visual perception and dexterity. Very often these jobs kind of fill in the gaps between machines.

[Read the full text here, at NPR]

For example, feeding parts into the next part of the production process or very often they’re at the end of the process — perhaps loading and unloading trucks and moving raw materials and finished products around, those types of things. Read the rest of this entry »


Journalists Prevented from Covering PEN Event on Press Freedom

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 reports: As part of the PEN World Voices Festival, the international press freedom organization scheduled an event this afternoon titled, “Finding Security in Unsafe Passages: United Nations Event about Protecting Journalists’ Safety and Rights.” The panel, according to PEN’s website, will “delve into the wide range of risks journalists face every day. Experts will offer safety tips, share advice for protecting sources and copyrights in all types of media and address cybersecurity risks.”

“The press is no longer able to attend this event. There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.”

— Festival spokeswoman Kyla McMillan, by email

But on the morning of the event, a spokeswoman for the festival, Kyla McMillan, notified the Observer that we had been denied entry. “The press is no longer able to attend this event,” said Ms. McMillan by email. “There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.” Read the rest of this entry »


Trove of China Rail Riders’ Personal Data Leaked Online

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The Chinese company didn’t confirm the number of travelers affected, but computer security monitoring websites estimated the hack revealed the details of more than 130,000 passengers

’Tis the season, it seems, for unwanted disclosures.

Personal data of travelers on the world’s most populous nation have been illegally leaked into the public domain – right at the start of the ticket-buying rush ahead of China’s massive Lunar New Year migration in February.

User names, passwords and email addresses of train riders in China were stolen from an official railway ticket sales website, www.12306.cn, and are now circulating on the Internet, China Railway Corp. said in a Christmas Day statement on its official microblog. The state rail company blamed the leak on third-party software used by travelers trying to beat online queues. Those who provide the software say it can help users leapfrog others in making online purchases. Read the rest of this entry »


Leading Cause of Malware Problems? Executives Watching Porn

Infected computers at work are often the result of top execs watching pornography. Credit: Man using laptop image via Shutterstock

Infected computers at work are often the result of top execs watching pornography.
Credit: Man using laptop image via Shutterstock

Chad Brooks reports:  While employees may get the brunt of the blame for security breaches, company leaders are doing their fair share of damage as well, a new study finds.

Research from ThreatTrack Security revealed that 40 percent of security professionals found that a device used by a member of their company’s senior leadership team had been infected by malware because of a visit to a pornographic website, and nearly 60 percent of the security professionals surveyed have cleaned malware from a device after an executive clicked on a malicious link or was duped by a phishing email.

In addition, 45 percent of respondents said they have found malware on a senior leader’s device because the executive allowed a family member to use it, with one-third of security professionals discovering it on an executive’s mobile devices because they installed a malicious app.

Read the rest of this entry »


L.A. Gets Cyber Attack Center

Mayor says e-security is a priority

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who announced the creation of the city's first cybersecurity command center on Wednesday. JOE KLAMAR / AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who announced the creation of the city’s first cybersecurity command center on Wednesday. JOE KLAMAR / AFP/Getty Images

The mayor of Los Angeles has announced the creation of a new command center to prevent potential hackers or foreign enemies from disrupting the computer networks behind the city’s public services .

The Cyber Intrusion Command Center will bring together computer experts and municipal agencies to respond to attempts to break into government systems that govern water, power, traffic and public safety, among others, the Los AngelesTimes reports.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has often called for the city’s technology to be overhauled, said cybersecurity was one of Los Angeles’ biggest potential weaknesses. The harbor and international airport, which are among the busiest in the world,  are key targets for attackers, he said.

[LATimesTIME.com


Google to Soldiers: Malware is the Enemy

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BRYANT JORDAN writes:  Getting the military’s cyber forces to focus more on the most serious threats to U.S. national security means getting away from a whack-a-mole-like strategy now used to find and remove malware in the system, officials from Google and Lockheed told a crowd of soldiers Wednesday.

Most of what cyber soldiers deal with is malware living in a system that can be exploited by an enemy, according to Jim Young, U.S. Army Account Executive for Google Enterprise Transformation.

It’s a common problem, but one that should not happen, he said at the last panel session at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington D.C.

“This notion that persistent malware can stay on your machine should not happen,” he said. “The technology is out there today to erase it, or not make it an attack factor. So I encourage you … to start looking at opportunities that fundamentally change how you probe cyber security. Do not do incremental. It will not get you where you need to be.”

Read the rest of this entry »