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  • North Korean ship was seized off Egypt with weapons for Egypt: Report

    By Joby Warrick October 1 at 9:24 PM Last August, a secret message was passed from Washington to Cairo warning about a mysterious vessel steaming toward the Suez Canal. The bulk freighter named Jie Shun was flying Cambodian colors but had sailed from North Korea, the warning said, with a North Korean crew and an unknown cargo shrouded by heavy tarps. Armed with this tip, customs agents were waiting when the ship entered Egyptian waters. They swarmed the vessel and discovered, concealed under bins of iron ore, a cache of more than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades. It was, as a United Nations report later concluded, the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” But who were the rockets for? The Jie Shun’s final secret would take months to resolve and would yield perhaps the biggest surprise of all: The buyers were the Egyptians themselves. A U.N. investigation uncovered a complex arrangement in which Egyptian business executives ordered millions of dollars worth of North Korean rockets for the country’s military while also taking pains to keep the transaction hidden, according to U.S. officials and Western diplomats familiar with the findings. The incident, many details of which were never publicly revealed, prompted the latest in a series of intense, if private, U.S. complaints over Egyptian efforts to obtain banned military hardware from Pyongyang, the officials said. More on this Story

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  • Is Safaricom Entering the Ethiopian Market?

    Safaricom has denied reports of the company entering into the Ethiopian market. The Kenyan telco had been said to be gearing up for its first venture abroad, with reports that it was in negotiations with the Ethiopian government for a stake in state-owned monopoly Ethio Telecom. “We wish to categorically state that we are not engaged in any conversations with Ethio Telecom on this matter. Any information to the contrary is completely inaccurate,” CEO Bob Collymore told The EastAfrican. Ethiopian media reported last week that the government had opened discussions with Safaricom on the sale of half of the shares of Ethio Telecom. Other reports indicated that Safaricom was discussing a mobile money partnership with an Ethiopian bank. Ethio Telecom offers slow, expensive, and unreliable phone and Internet services. Kenya’s Principal Secretary in-charge of ICT Victor Kyalo said he had seen a tweet about the transaction. “It is not clear whether it is Safaricom or Vodacom. I tried to check, but nobody seems to know any information. If they have, they seem to be guarding it,” Mr Kyalo told The EastAfrican. The Kenyan government owns 40 per cent of Safaricom. Last week, Ethiopian satellite broadcaster Esat reported that both the sale of Ethio Telecom shares to Safaricom and the sale of the Addis Ababa Hilton Hotel to Ethiopian-born Saudi tycoon Sheikh Mohamnmed Hussien Alamoudi, the 159th richest man in the world according to Forbes, were part of the authorities efforts to ease the forex crunch in the country and tackle indebtedness. More on this Story Here

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  • Ethiopian Airlines Digitalized All Business Processes

    Flying even more greener; Ethiopian Airlines Group, the largest airline in Africa, is pleased to announce that it has fully digitalized all its business processes like aircraft maintenance and Flight Operations, Commercial Operations, Finance, HRM, Customer Services, Procurement and Supply Chain Management, Online learning, management approvals and authorizations etc… by removing paper from the entire system as of today, September 28, 2017. Group CEO Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said; “Although we started the digitization project in the last few years, today marks an important milestone in our history as we are removing a paper from our entire business processes. Leading in the Digital Revolution and leveraging on the latest advancement in the Information and Communication technology of the global airline industry, Ethiopian will scale up its Operational Excellence, Customer intimacy, and cost leadership strategies. ICT will enable us to deliver customized global standard customer services as per the preferences of each and every customer. We are living in the fourth industrial Revolution which is fundamentally different from the previous industrial revolutions especially in the speed of change and disruptions and our continued success depends on our strategic response and our abilities to adapt to the velocity, breadth and depth and scale of the quantum changes coming our way. To this effect, we have embedded digitization in our organizational operating system with our valued customers in our mind.” From the perspective of pursuing environmentally friendly operation, it is worth mentioning that Ethiopian operates the youngest, latest aviation technology and most environmental friendly fleets with fewer carbon emissions to the environment. Source: Ethiopian Airlines Press Release

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  • Robots and artificial intelligence could destabilise the world, warns UN research institute

    Over past few years, advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence have led to some breathtaking developments in various fields -- Representational ImageFABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images In a fresh warning about AI, a UN research institute has said that machine intelligence and robotics could destabilise the world, according to a report in the Guardian. The scary-as-hell warning from the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) comes ahead of the opening of Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in The Hague – UN's first centre focused towards artificial intelligence as well as the possible risks that could arise from such technologies. Highlighting the need for the office in an interview with Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf, Irakli Beridze, senior strategic adviser at UNICRI, said, AI developments were associated with great risks that need addressing. "If societies do not adapt quickly enough, this can cause instability". Over past few years, advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence have led to some breathtaking developments in various fields. However, the same technology has also raised a plethora of legal, ethical and societal concerns, some of which may even prove hazardous for the well-being and safety of humans – for instance, mass unemployment or the rise of autonomous 'killer robots'. To address these, the new UN office will be tasked to look and predict AI-related threats. But that's not the only task the new team will be assigned to perform. Along with potential risks, they will also explore the plausible benefits from machine intelligence. The adviser stressed on this point noting that the new centre would also seek to employ AI advances to help achieve UN's targets. "One of our most important tasks is to set up a network of experts from business, knowledge institutes, civil society organizations and governments," he added. "We certainly do not want to plead for a ban or a brake on technologies. We will also explore how new technology can contribute to the sustainable development goals of the UN. For this we want to start concrete projects. We will not be a talking club." China, Russia, and the United States are already in the race of AI development. The nations are striving towards building autonomous weapon systems – machines which would have the capability to determine their course of action without human control. Read more

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  • Facebook Testing Facial Recognition to Let Users Regain Access to Locked Account

    ) The social network has embraced facial recognition technology, and has started using a new system to help people keep their accounts secure. The social network will ask you to look into your device’s camera, and verify it’s really you that’s trying to sign in to your account by comparing the scan with pictures and videos you’re already tagged in. It looks like Facebook is also interested to make use of facial recognition to verify its users. The social networking company recently confirmed to TechCrunch that they are testing out a way for users to regain access to their locked Facebook account by scanning their faces. The new feature was first discovered by social media researcher, Devesh Logendran, who sent a screenshot to The Next Web’s Matt Navarra. Facebook has confirmed to TechCrunch that they are indeed testing a new facial recognition system for those who want to quickly verify account ownership. “We are testing a new feature for people who want to quickly and easily verify account ownership during the account recovery process. This optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in. It is another step, alongside two-factor authentication via SMS, that were taking to make sure account owners can confirm their identity.” – Facebook told TechCrunch. Such new feature could come in handy, especially for those who are abroad and do not have their local SIM to retrieve two-factor authentication SMS. Facial recognition is nothing new to Facebook. For years now, they have been tracking faces to help users tag friends, though they are not always accurate. The company also used a feature that asked users to identify friends when they wish to regain access to their account. (Source: TechCrunch

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  • France approves tough new anti-terror laws

    France's lower house of parliament has approved a new anti-terrorism law intended to bring an end to a nearly two-year-long state of emergency. The law will incorporate several measures first authorised under the emergency arrangement. They include easier searches of homes and confining individuals to their home towns, without judicial approval. Most people in France approve of the move, but it has been criticised by rights groups. A state of emergency was first introduced after the attacks of 13 November 2015, when militants from so-called Islamic State (IS) killed 130 people in gun and bomb attacks in Paris. It has since been extended six times, but there was a consensus that to continue with the state of emergency indefinitely would be undemocratic, the BBC's Hugh Schofield reports from Paris. Read more

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  • Belgian beauty Marisa Papen na'ked photoshoot with Ethiopian Tribes

    The nude model who caused a worldwide stir after a secret photoshoot inside one of Egypt's most ancient temples landed her in jail has now appeared naked among one of Africa's most colourful ethnic tribes. Belgian nude model Marisa Papen, who describes herself as a 'free-spirited and wildhearted expressionist', became the centre of a worldwide controversy when she was sent to prison for a photoshoot in the temple complex of Karnak near the Egyptian city of Luxor. Unperturbed, Papen has opened up on her African trip during which she walked naked among the members of an isolated Ethiopian tribe.  Papen said: 'They have their own customs and believes, their own beauty-standards, their own religion, living life in harmony with nature and the spirit world. 'You may say, they are totally different then we are. But to me they are, what we once were. In touch with nature, a part of nature, immensely grateful and respectful towards it.' Papen travelled with with Australian photographer Jesse Walker to the isolated Omo Valley in south-western Ethiopia, where she lived for a week with the Surma tribe. Papen said: 'What we claim to call beautiful in our Western world isn't quite the same how the Surma tribe pursues beauty. 'Both Surma men and woman pierce their ears, some woman stretch their lower lip with a plate. 'They scar their bodies by making little cuts repetitively.' 'Isn't it funny we invented all these creams, lasers and other treatments to get rid of ours.' The Surma have a long history of body painting. By using pulverised minerals they create drawings and patterns, something which Papen also tried out on her own body. Papen said: 'Not only is it an expression of emotion and art, there's also a more practical reason behind it.   Read more: dailymail.co.uk

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  • California man wins $1M after wife scolds him for buying too many lottery tickets

    A California man won $1 million from a scratch-off ticket after his wife scolded him for buying too many lottery tickets. Hermenegildo Beltran-Meza was so wary of his wife finding out about his lotto purchases that he hid in the bathroom to scratch them off, according to a California Lottery press release. Beltran-Meza bought two California Black Premium Scratchers for $10 each. The first turned out to be a loser, but the second was the $1 million winner. That's when Beltran-Meza summoned the courage to tell his wife about his deeds. "You said I'm never going to win and there I won, there's proof," Beltran-Meza told his wife, delivering the good news. The couple said they will use some of the money to put toward their retirement. Read more

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  • Three American Soldiers Killed in Niger in Suspected Ambush

    WASHINGTON — Three United States Army Special Forces were killed and two were wounded on Wednesday in an ambush in Niger while on a training mission with troops from that nation in northwestern Africa, American military officials said. “We can confirm reports that a joint U.S. and Nigerien patrol came under hostile fire in southwest Niger,” Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said in an email. All five American soldiers were Green Berets, said two United States military officials. The attack took place 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger, near the border with Mali, where militants with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, have conducted cross-border raids. Niger’s troops were also believed to have suffered casualties, but details were not immediately known. The deaths represent the first American casualties under hostile fire in a mission in which United States Special Forces have provided training and security assistance to the Nigerien armed forces, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. A Special Forces soldier died in a vehicle accident in Niger in February. One of the military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss continuing military operations, said American forces were rushing to the scene of the ambush, presumably to evacuate American and Nigerien casualties, and possibly to hunt down the attackers.   President Trump was briefed on the deaths of the Green Berets, said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Details of the late-afternoon ambush were sketchy. Soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group were assisting their Nigerien counterparts with counterterrorism training when they came under attack in a remote part of the country. As of late Wednesday, there had been no claims of responsibility. Read more

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  • Saudi Arabia urged to ditch 'male guardianship' law after lifting ban on female drivers

    Human rights groups and women’s activists in Saudi Arabia have called on the country’s government to scrap a controversial male guardianship law following the announcement that it would lift a ban on female drivers. A royal decree lifting the kingdom’s ban on female drivers was announced on Tuesday evening. It is expected to come into force next June. Saudi activists welcomed the move, which Amnesty international called the “a long overdue small step.” Attention is now turning to the Kingdom’s controversial male guardianship law, which requires every woman to seek permission of a man for a range of things including applying for a passport, travelling abroad, or getting married.   " We also need to see a whole range of discriminatory laws and practices swept away in Saudi Arabia including the guardianship system where every woman has a male guardian, be it their father, brother, husband or son, having authority to make decisions on her behalf," Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday. Mariam al Otaibi, a 30 year old activist who spent 104 days in jail earlier this year after her father had her arrested on charges of "disobedience", told the Telegraph the move left her optimistic about a broader shift in official attitudes to women, including the case against her. “I think it will be the end of male guardianship and we will witness many changes soon,” she said. "I always thought this was bound to happen but not before the end of 2018." Read more

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