• Gait recognition technology can detect you from 50m distance without seeing your face

    A new biometric identification technology developed by Chinese scientists allows the identification of people by the way they walk, without the need to look at their faces. The gait recognition system includes a camera that is functional within a distance of 50 meters from its target and capable of identifying a specific person just by analyzing how they carry themselves, according to researchers from the Automation Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The technology presents multiple advantages. Huang Yongzhen, an associate researcher from CAS, said technology using iris recognition needs its target to be no further than 30 cm from the lens, while face recognition technology can work at a distance of up to five meters. But the newly-developed system can operate within a much longer range, and at faster speeds. Detection time is reduced to less than 200 milliseconds, faster than the time it takes an eye to blink (between 300 to 400 milliseconds). The new technology can also identify a person without their active cooperation. Even if they walk past the surveillance camera hiding their face, gait recognition algorithm can still unveil their identity. Gait recognition can also estimate the density of large populations, as it incorporates real-time people counting technology. It is able to detect up to 1,000 people within an area of 1,000 square meters. The technique could be widely used in the fields of security and public transport, among others. Read more

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  • Kenya police killed 35 in August poll violence: rights group

    Thirty-seven people were killed after Kenya's August elections, and all but two of the cases were caused by "excessive" force by police, a human rights watchdog said Monday. Previous tolls from the disputed elections -- since annulled by the Supreme Court -- had not exceeded 24, and until now there were few details into how the deaths occurred. In a 262-page report, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said 35 of 37 deaths it documented between August 9-15, were due to "excessive use of force by police". The remaining two were due to "civilian aggression". The August 8 presidential poll has been cancelled by Kenya's paramount court, which cited widespread "illegalities and irregularities." New elections are scheduled for October 26. The report, titled "Mirage at Dusk", documented killings in predominantly opposition areas of the country where protests began after party leaders alleged fraud. Riot police armed with batons, tear gas and assault rifles, and backed with water cannons, were quickly deployed to quell the protests. Seven of those killed were under the age of 18 and included a six-month-old baby who died after being beaten by police who broke into her home during late night demonstrations in the western city of Kisumu, an opposition stronghold. Adult victims were overwhelmingly young men aged 20-45. "While the Commission was not able to determine whether the action to use force by security agents was predetermined and targeted, it is clear from our analysis that majority of the victims were from one ethnic community and from informal settlements," the report said. Almost all of the dead were killed in western Kenya or the slums of the capital Nairobi, both strongholds of opposition leader Raila Odinga and his Luo ethnic community. Kenyan police were blamed for a third of more than 1,100 deaths in 2007 when the country faced its deadliest ever post election dispute. This time around, isolated protests erupted after Odinga accused the election commission of rigging the poll in favour of incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. Judges later overturned the election and ordered a re-run. Odinga has vowed to boycott the polls if his demands, such as the overhauling of the election commission, are not met. Read more

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  • Russia and Saudi Arabia ‘sign $3bn arms deal’ as King Salman visit shows how much relations have changed

    A faulty golden aircraft escalator and anger from Moscow’s elite about a 200-strong Saudi retinue taking over all the city’s 5-star hotels failed to dampen the fanfare accompanying King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on his first state visit to Russia. Met with an honour guard of dignitaries and the Preobrazhensky military orchestra, the Saudi king was sped along on a highway specially lined with billboards advertising the visit and a week-long festival of Saudi culture.

    This was a big deal for Russia – with multi-billion energy and defence contracts in the balance – and it wanted King Salman to know.

    Ahead of the visit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the event as “an historical moment”. At the summit in the Kremlin on Thursday, Vladimir Putin agreed: This was a “landmark event” that would provide a “boost” to relations. And King Salman returned the compliments. Russia was “a friendly country,” he said.

    According to the Kommersant newspaper, agreement has already been reached on a $3bn (£2.2bn) deal to supply the Saudis with Russia’s most advanced air defence missile system, the S400 Triumph. According to the publication, the deal will be signed off at a WTO meeting at the end of October. There may be other deals forthcoming on aircraft and helicopters – that depending on the success of talks.

    Defence is one of few technological sectors where Russia can still claim to be a world leader, with over a fifth of all arms deals in 2016. But with China and India, Russia’s biggest markets, looking to move towards military self-sufficiency, Russia is with increasing urgency looking to open new markets.

    The Saudi partnership comes at the end of several years of courtship – and off the back of a tetchy relationship.

    Russia first announced that it had brokered a $20m (£15m) deal back in 2012. But that deal had several strings attached, namely a demand that the Kremlin could not sell the C-300 missile system to Iran, the Saudis’ major regional rivals. Then, President Putin looked the other way, signing off on a new arms contract with Tehran worth $1bn (£762m).

    That move underlined the historical distrust between the two countries. The Saudis have been accused for supporting anti-Russian insurgency – whether in mujahedeens against Soviet troops in Afghanistan, or Wahhabist Islamic groups in Chechnya and Dagestan. The presence of Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s rascal president and keen promoter of rival Sufism ideology, at talks in the Kremlin served as a reminder of those differences.

    Most recently, Russian operations in Syria have put it in direct conflict with Saudi interests. The Saudis remain opposed to Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is being supported by Russian military power. The gulf kingdom, on its part, is also believed to be funding rebel groups opposed to al-Assad.

    But while the sides remain some way from a common position, the Independent has learned negotiators believe progress on de-escalation zones may be made.

    “The Saudis have lost interest and realise that Russia now owns the crisis,” says Yuri Barmin, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council. “They see how the balance of power is changing in the region: how the US is pulling out and how Russia is now increasing its influence in the Middle East.”

    Russia’s geopolitical march in the region has made a highly improbable state visit possible. But the timing of the talks has little to do with Syria. Instead, King Salman is believed to be in Moscow to shore up international support for his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, next in line to the throne.

    “King Salman wants Russia’s backing for his son,” says Mr Barmin. “Bin Salman is poorly perceived at home over his role in the unpopular Yemen war and the blockade of Qatar.”

    For Russia the stakes are even higher. Hamstrung by Western sanctions and uncompetitive industry, it hopes the new bonhomie will provide impetus to its struggling economy.

    On Wednesday, President Putin hinted that there would likely be further cooperation to lift the oil price, the lifeblood of the Russian economy. Ministers also made it clear that they hope the Saudi delegation will deliver on investment from the kingdom’s sovereign wealth funds.

    So far, the record on Saudi investment is poor. Of $10bn (£7bn) promised to Russia in 2015, only $1billion has actually ever materialised.

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  • How US Surveillance Helps Repressive Regimes—the Ethiopia Case

    Recent stories from Edward Snowden's disclosures show how the US government's involvement with Ethiopia presents a case study in enabling repressive regimes to carry out surveillance on their own citizens. In the case of Ethiopia, such surveillance powers can play a significant role in a government's criminalization of dissent and politically motivated detentions. The United States is not alone in its assistance. Ethiopia has also used hacking technologies obtained from abroad to spy on diaspora living in the United States. It is high time for the US administration and Congress to reckon with the human rights abuses of the Ethiopian government, and how the sharing of national security technologies is enabling the regime. 

    The National Security Agency (NSA) documents provided by Snowden reveal that the US set up several listening posts in Ethiopia in 2002 to intercept communications from Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, as part of its regional counterterrorism efforts. In 2006, the documents indicate, the NSA agreed to provide Ethiopia with additional domestic surveillance technology in the Somali Regional State, commonly called the Ogaden. As part of these partnerships, the US trained Ethiopia's army and security agency in surveillance techniques in exchange for local language capabilities and well-placed intelligence operations centers.

    In other words, this wasn't just US intelligence analysts sitting in Ethiopia - which would have been problematic enough given the US history of abusive renditions at that time. It was the NSA actually training and transferring this technology to the Ethiopian army and government. As the documents state: "The benefit of this relationship is that the Ethiopians provide the location and linguists and we [United States] provide the technology and training."

    This news raises many questions because we know the Ethiopian army, not long after, proceeded to commit war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in the Ogaden region in 2007-2008 during a brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the Ogaden National Liberation Front. Various Ethiopian forces have continued to commit serious abuses in Ethiopia's Somali Regional State ever since.

    Ethiopia, a major ally of the United States, has worked over many years to ruthlessly and methodically crush political dissent. Its security forces terrorize the population with impunity, tens of thousands of people are detained for political reasons, and it misuses the counterterrorism narrative to crack down on peaceful dissent. While Western nations have largely turned a blind eye to Ethiopia's human rights record, there has been limited evidence to link the Ethiopian government's most serious abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, to its Western allies. Until now.

    The NSA can't feign ignorance. In addition to a 130-page Human Rights Watch report published in 2008 that documents extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and mass arrests by the NSA's partner in the Ogaden, the US State Department itself routinely reports on serious abuses by the army, including in 2005, the year before the US and Ethiopia reportedly expanded their deal. United Nations human rights bodies and experts, in which the United States is an active participant, have also drawn attention to Ethiopia's abusive security forces.

    Military abuses are not limited to the Ogaden. Ethiopian government forces have long committed abuses throughout the country- including possible crimes against humanity in the Gambella region in 2003. In the last two years, government security forces have killed over 1,000 people during a year of protests against the government and security force aggression.

    Human Rights Watch's research has documented how one of the Ethiopian government's security agencies, the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), plays an increasingly key role in facilitating surveillance of Ethiopians' private communications for security and police forces. The law enforcement and security agencies in turn use the information to arrest people for lawful opposition activities under the pretext of counterterrorism. And many of those arrested are arbitrarily detained without trial.

    In 2014, Human Rights Watch documented how authorities used transcripts, recordings, and phone call metadata during violent interrogations and in politically motivated trials. Such information is usually obtained without judicial warrants and Ethiopia lacks meaningful protections for privacy and fair trial rights.

    The US is not alone in having provided surveillance capabilities to Ethiopia. The government's Chinese-developed telecom system allows officials to monitor every phone call in the country. The government also used spyware to hack into electronic devices and spy on members of the Ethiopia diaspora, including those in the United States. Evidence exists that spyware of various types continues to be used to target dissidents in the diaspora.

    While the Snowden documents show the US-Ethiopia surveillance partnership lasted up until at least 2010, it is highly likely that this relationship has continued given the strong cooperation between the two governments in other areas and the US government's insatiable appetite for intelligence. This could make the US complicit in the very serious crimes being committed by its security partner.

    As a general matter, international law forbids a government's assisting another government in the commission of international law violations. Those international rules are even more restrictive when the recipient's violations are well-known and repetitive.

    The US Congress has recently and rightly expressed concern over human rights abuses committed by Ethiopia's government, including by recommending that the Secretary of State should "conduct a review of security assistance to Ethiopia in light of recent developments and to improve transparency with respect to the purposes of such assistance... "

    In this vein, Congress should ask both the NSA and its parent agency, the Defense Department, for clarity on the status of its surveillance partnership with Ethiopia and what protections are in place to ensure the US is not in any way facilitating the serious abuses being committed by the Ethiopian army and other government agencies -- abuses that ultimately undermine US interests in the region.

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  • Saudi woman driver hurt, companion dies in Jeddah traffic accident

    JEDDAH — A Saudi woman, who was driving her car early Monday, was seriously injured and her 13-year-old male companion died following a traffic accident on Huda Al-Sham road between Makkah and Jeddah, Makkah daily reported on Tuesday quoting traffic police sources.

    The sources said that women at driver’s seat is still considered a traffic violator as the Royal decree enabling them to drive will take effect from June 2018.

    Yacoub Al-Mutair, a lawyer and a legal consultant, agreed with the traffic police, saying the Royal decree stipulated the constitution of a committee to study the necessary arrangements for its implementation.

    He said women taking driving lessons or driving on the streets is illegal and will be considered a traffic violation. The lawyer said if a woman driver caused injuries to the others, she will have to bear the legal responsibility of her action.

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  • I have not increased my salary and I will not increase it.

    Tanzanian President John Magufuli has revealed that he takes home a monthly salary of $4,008 as leader of the East African country.

    Magufuli, who was elected president in 2015 on a pledge to tackle corruption, made the disclosure during a speech broadcast live on state television on Tuesday.

    “My salary is 9 millions (Tanzanian Shillings). I have not increased my salary and I will not increase it. Because my obligation is to serve Tanzanians first. Citizens are tired of their money getting stolen,” Magufuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for building roads in his previous post as cabinet minister, said.

    Kendrick Keinagoma, a lecturer at Dar Es Salaam University, said the disclosure was a “step in the right direction”.

    “This is transperancy and when you say you want to lead by example it is the right thing to do. Before, presidents never told us how much they were earning.” Keinagoma told Al Jazeera from the country’s commercial capital, Dar Es Salaam.

    Magufuli’s salary is a third of what former president Jakaya Kikwete was reported to be earning during his ten-year tenure as leader of East Africa’s most populous country.

    But some Tanzanians still think the president’s salary, which is also lower than the salaries of President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, is still too high.

    “The president gets everything from the government. His children’s school fees, free house and free cars. If he thinks it is a small salary or it is not enough then he is mistaken,” Joe Dato, a taxi driver, told Al Jazeera.

    READ MORE: Bah humbug in Tanzania as president cancels Xmas cards

    Magafuli, after more than two decades in politics, has built a no-nonsense corruption-free reputation.

    Weeks after he was elected president, the son of a peasant farmer ordered restrictions on government officials’ foreign trips.

    Tanzanian public officials have reputation for making frequent trips abroad flying first or business class at the expense of taxpayers.

    “Some board members of public organisations used to decide not to hold their board meetings in Tanzania and will go to Dubai to hold their meetings there just so that they could pay themselves a large amount of per diems. They certainly don’t like what my government is doing now,”  a defiant Magufuli said on Tuesday.

    Twelve million Tanzanians live in extreme poverty earning less than $0.60 a day, according to the World Bank.

    In 2015, the 57-year-old leader banned government officials from sending Christmas and New Year cards paid for by public funds as part of cost-cutting measures his government introduced.

    Curbing the corruption

    In April this year President Magufuli sacked almost 10,000 civil servants for lacking education qualification and draining the public coffers.

    Magufuli’s government hit a mining company in July with $190 bln bill for unpaind taxes, penalties and interests dating back several years.

    He has also dismissed several top government officials, including the country’s tax chief, head of the government’s anti-corruption body and head of Tanzania port authority, for alleged corruption offences since he took office.

    The country of more than 53 million people has been struggling to curb corruption and has witnessed large-scale scandals in recent years. In 2014 the country’s housing minister and attorney general were pushed out of office after more than &186m were taken from the central bank in an energy scandal.

    The anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, ranked Tanzania 116 out of 176 countries in its 2016 corruption perception index.

     Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

    Source: Al Jazeera

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  • Egypt’s FM discussing with scholars and Journalists on Nile Water & Ethiopia GERD Dam

    Egypt’s FM discussing with scholars and Journalists on Nile Water & Ethiopia GERD Dam ,By Minilik Salsawi

    The president is very committed to institutional work and can not abandon an atom of the homeland

    Sameh Shukri of Al-Ahram (1-2): Prepared by Mohamed El Agroudy , English By Minilik Salsawi

    Foreign Minister answers the questions of Al-Ahram writers and journalists

    Egypt’s foreign policy must be expressed in the domestic situation and in the service of the citizen Al-Ahram is an example of a committed and objective pressEgyptian-African relations have a priority for their development after a period of stagnation

    The relationship with Ankara has been sorely strained lately

    There are Turkish attempts to expand and expand influence at the expense of the common Arab entity

    We urge Ethiopia and Sudan to interact in a way that creates confidence and avoids any idea of ​​confrontation

    No one can deny Egypt’s ability to influence regional and international issues

    There are pitfalls that threaten the foundations of the tripartite agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, which we have not been able to overcome

    We have the political power that makes us manage the Nile water file rationally

    We ask Ethiopia to provide more information on the amendments

    Which was carried out on the designs of Al-Nahdha Dam Egypt does not conspire nor work to destabilize the internal situation of any countryThe Egyptian foreign policy is witnessing a state of momentum and movement at the level of all regional and international issues and files. Thanks to the continuous work of Egyptian diplomacy, led by Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, Egypt has regained its normal and effective role in its regional and international environment and has returned strongly to the African continent, which represents the strategic depth.

    In light of the regional situation in which there are many complex issues and difficult challenges, the Arab issues remain the top priorities of the Egyptian foreign policy, from the Palestinian issue to the situation in Syria and the Libyan file, as well as the developments in Yemen and Iraq. International and major countries, including the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Asian Tigers, and the European Union.

    Egyptian diplomacy also cooperates with international organizations and their various activities, based on the pivotal role of Egypt and plays an active role in tackling the thorny issues, including the Nile water file, damming the Renaissance and other complex issues.

    In his enlightening role, Al-Ahram hosted Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, who spoke in an extensive dialogue with the leaders and senior writers of Al-Ahram and its journalists on the orientations of Egyptian foreign policy, the latest developments in regional issues, the files on the agenda of Egyptian diplomacy and other issues.

    At the beginning of the meeting, Abdul Mohsen Salameh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Al-Ahram Foundation and the Journalists’ Syndicate, welcomed the Foreign Minister and the attendance of senior Egyptian writers and journalists in Al-Ahram. He stressed that the Foreign Minister bears the responsibilities of the body. No one can deny this. Egyptian diplomacy, which underwent a very difficult experience, and after 30 June 2013 we were in crisis, and Egypt was in a semi-siege, and the fact that when it now turns into a great success of the Egyptian foreign policy in many files, this is calculated for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Headed by Minister Sameh Shukri, Mushir To the great effort made in choppy and difficult atmosphere at all levels, wishing to be the beginning of the Al-Ahram salon for a permanent dialogue between the Al-Ahram Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    On his part, Alaa Al-Ahram, editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram, welcomed Al-Ahram’s statement on behalf of the Al-Ahram editorial family and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He thanked Al-Ahram for this extensive dialogue after his article published in Al-Ahram on June 30, He expressed his happiness with the participation of senior writers in this dialogue, which will address all foreign policy files, which raise many questions, and therefore need a lot of clarification.

    The editor-in-chief discussed the international and regional issues, particularly the Qatari crisis, the Libyan issue, the Syrian file, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, the Yemen crisis, Iraq and the Kurdistan referendum, the Nile water file and the renaissance of Nahda. The United States, Russia, China and regional groupings, including the Brix and the Human Rights File, and the nomination file of Minister Moushira Khattab as Director-General of UNESCO.

    At the beginning of his dialogue with the writers and journalists of Al-Ahram, Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri thanked the opportunity to be in the “Al-Ahram”. , Who attended the dialogue, expressing his aspiration to listen to their vision and benefit from them.

    The minister stressed that every effort is made to provide Egypt with a breakthrough towards the future and put it in the best interests of future generations. Every effort will be motivated and motivated not only to overcome the challenges because it is temporary and to disappear, but the most important is the path for the future and the starting point, whether in the political, economic or social spheres.Minilik Salsawi And to see Egypt take its place in the service of its citizens and people, because in fact it has in the past and has the potential in the future to remain a pillar not only in the Middle East region, not only in the regional framework, whether Mediterranean, African or Arab, but its impact and ability to influence In touch T international and global, and this is something that can not be denied by one.

    The Foreign Minister pointed out that when we look at this constellation of thinkers and intellectuals and what Egypt has produced by enriching culture, science, literature, law and all fields, the continued ability of the society to produce more of these capabilities is the most important thing for the future, stressing that Egyptian foreign policy should be expressed The internal situation, and must be in the service path only

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