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Japan's new emperor, Naruhito, was flanked by just two male members of the royal line of succession during his ascension ceremony Imperial Palace Tokyo @nytimes
Law & Politics
During the short, solemn ceremony on Wednesday in which the new
emperor of Japan, Naruhito, 59, accepted the sacred sword, jewels and
seals that signify his right to sit on the throne, he was flanked by
just two people. Standing ramrod straight to his right was his younger
brother, Prince Akishino. To his left was his aging uncle, Prince
Hitachi, who sat in a wheelchair.
It was striking visual evidence of the imperial family’s looming
existential crisis: It has precious few heirs left.
Like Japan itself, the imperial family has a demographic problem. Just
as Japan’s population is shrinking and aging, so is the royal
The line of succession, which is limited to men, is only three people long.
China's Mass Surveillance More Sophisticated Than Thought @business
Law & Politics
A mobile app used by police to track citizens in China’s far west
region of Xinjiang shows how some of the country’s biggest technology
companies are linked to a mass surveillance system that is more
sophisticated than previously known, according to a report from Human
The app uses facial recognition technology from a firm backed by
Alibaba Group Holding to match faces with photo identification and
cross-check pictures on different documents, the New York-based group
said on Thursday.
The app also takes a host of other data points -- from electricity and
smartphone use to personal relationships to political and religious
affiliations -- to flag suspicious behavior, the report said.
The watchdog’s report sheds new light on the vast scope of activity
China is monitoring as it cracks down on its minority Muslim Uighur
population in a bid to stop terrorism before it happens.
The U.S. State Department says as many as two million Uighurs are
being held in camps in Xinjiang, a number disputed by Chinese
authorities even though they haven’t disclosed a figure.
In an address Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged
corporate America to think twice before doing business in Xinjiang.
“We watch the massive human rights violations in Xinjiang where over a
million people are being held in a humanitarian crisis that is the
scale of what took place in the 1930s,” he said, according to comments
released by the State Department.
Human Rights Watch said that so-called data doors at checkpoints may
be vacuuming up information from mobile phones from unsuspecting
Some Xinjiang residents who suspected their phones were being used as
monitoring devices even buried them in the desert, a move that could
later hurt them if the system loses track of their phone, according to
Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“The political reeducation camps are one pen, but then you have a
series of bigger pens that are like virtual fences,” Wang said.
China’s State Council Information Office did not reply to a request
for comment sent by fax. The government has said the surveillance
measures in Xinjiang are necessary to prevent terrorism and grow the
Human Rights Watch said information in the report is based on
reverse-engineering the police app, which communicates with a database
known as Integrated Joint Operations Platform, or IJOP.
The group said it enlisted Berlin-based cybersecurity firm Cure53 to
conduct a technical assessment of the app after finding that it was
publicly available online last year.
IJOP is mainly a tool for data collection, filing reports and
prompting “investigative missions” by police. The report called for
China to shut down the database behind the app, and for foreign
governments to impose targeted sanctions such as visa bans and asset
freezes against leaders in Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch said the mobile app was developed by a unit of
state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp, a Fortune 500
company known as CETC with $30 billion in revenue and 169,000
The group has expanded its various operations abroad, from developing
smart city solutions in Tehran to a cooperation agreement with German
engineering group Siemens.
The app uses facial recognition technology developed by Beijing-based
Megvii under the brand Face++. The company, which sells licenses to
use Face++ facial recognition in mobile apps, was considering an
initial public offering to raise as much as $1 billion in Hong Kong,
Bloomberg News reported in January.
Megvii said it doesn’t have any relationship with the IJOP database
nor knowledge of why its technology appeared in the police app. It
said it has a contractual relationship with CETC for a Face++ license
related to the use of e-government services such as paying bills or
unlocking a mobile device.
“Megvii does not host any third party data nor does it have any access
to the IJOP platform or the national ID database,” the company said in
an emailed reply to questions, adding that Human Rights Watch didn’t
provide access to the full report before it was published.
Megvii’s investors include Alibaba Group Holding -- co-founded by
China’s richest man, Jack Ma -- and its affiliate Ant Financial
Services, as well as Sinovation Ventures and Foxconn Technology Group.
Alibaba and Ant declined to comment, while neither Sinovation or
Foxconn responded to requests for comment.
Beyond collecting data and tipping off the police, the IJOP-linked app
has a range of other functions. It provides a system for officials to
communicate across voice, email and telephone calls, uses Baidu map
functionality for geolocation, and allows officials to search for
information about people using their name and various other inputs.
The Human Rights Watch report provides insight into what type of
behavior puts Xinjiang’s citizens on the radar of authorities. Those
particularly at risk include people who move in or out of a registered
residence, download certain software or content on a mobile phones, or
have links to people who are abroad.
The report includes screenshots of the app, which prompts authorities
to choose whether data collection is happening in home visits, on the
streets, in political education camps, during registration for travel
abroad, or when dealing with Xinjiang residents living in the
Higher-level officials with administrative rights also have a sixth
choice: collecting information from foreign nationals who have entered
Officials are then prompted to log on and input data ranging from a
person’s height to blood type and political affiliation.
Another page examined by Human Rights Watch shows 36 “person types”
that attract special attention, including people who don’t socialize
with neighbors or those who use “an abnormal amount of electricity.”
The app also uses the central IJOP system to send instructions for
officers to investigate certain individuals, prompting them to collect
identifying information such as vehicle color and type and log whether
they use one of 51 “suspicious” internet tools like WhatsApp or
Virtual Private Networks.
05-MAR-2018 :: China has unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang
Law & Politics
Dissent is measured and snuffed out very quickly in China. China has
unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang where a combination of data
from video surveillance, face and license plate recognition, mobile
device locations, and official records to identify targets for
detention [CDT]. Xinjiang is surely a Precursor for how the CCCP will
manage dissent. The actions in Xinjiang are part of the regional
authorities’ ongoing “Strike-Hard” campaign, and of President Xi’s
“stability maintenance” and “enduring peace” drive in the region.
Zimbabwe's President @edmnangagwa Says Business Is Undermining His Economic Agenda @bpolitics
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused “unpatriotic” members
of the business community of thwarting the government’s economic
program, saying recent price increases are unjustifiable.
The southern African nation has been struggling with shortages of
bread, fuel and foreign currency, with inflation accelerating to
almost 67 percent in March.
Some price increases can be blamed on the business sector, Mnangagwa
said, without giving further details.
“My government will not stand by and leave workers and the generality
of our people at the mercy of a small group with rent-seeking
profiteering tendencies,” he said in an emailed statement late
The annual inflation rate is at its highest since a peak of 500
billion percent in 2008, which prompted the government to abandon the
Zimbabwe dollar a year later.
Bond notes that aren’t accepted outside the country were introduced in
2016 at par value with the U.S. dollar.
In February they were converted into what is effectively a new
currency known as RTGS$ and have been allowed to gradually devalue on
an interbank market.
While the RTGS$ traded at 3.26 to the dollar on the interbank market
today, the black market rate is 4.61, according to Marketwatch.co.zw,
a website run by financial analysts.
Africa will be the new China @FinancialTimes
I’d like to make a prediction. It’s a bold one: within 50 years, the
label “Made in Africa” will be as ubiquitous as “Made in China” is
today on everyday items sold in Britain such as clothing, towels and
televisions. In fact, I’ll go even further: African products will
actually displace many such items that today are made by Chinese
companies. Admittedly, this does seem an unlikely scenario when,
beyond perhaps a diamond in their jewellery box, a bag of Kenyan
coffee or a bottle of South African Cabernet, many Britons would
struggle to find a “Made in Africa” product in their homes. But
Africa, with its chequered history of industrial development, is on
the cusp of real and dramatic economic growth.
Much progress has already been made. Over the past 15 years, most
African countries have enjoyed sustained economic growth, in some
cases at annual rates above 5 per cent, buoyed by rising commodity
prices, budget surpluses, foreign investment and fewer conflicts.
Services sectors are blossoming across the continent, while a
telecommunications boom — driven by mobile phone usage, in a region
where land lines were few, and internet penetration — is also playing
a role, as is a vibrant financial services sector. Yet 28 of the
world’s poorest countries are in Africa. Half of its people live in
poverty, without access to basic human rights such as food, clean
water and housing, while two in five are illiterate. Economic growth,
while fast, has come from a low base: gross domestic product per head
is just $1,770, about a quarter that of Asia.
Sustainable transformation requires a radical new approach. It is not
a services economy that will lift half a billion people out of poverty
or create 100m jobs, but an industrial one. Export-led manufacturing
will be the key to Africa’s success, just as it transformed the
fortunes of Asian countries, particularly China, in past decades.
Today, the manufacturing sector contributes just 9 per cent to
Africa’s gross domestic product, against 17 per cent for the
agricultural sector. It also represents less than 2 per cent of global
manufacturing, suggesting huge scope for improvement.
Today, much of Africa’s industry is focused on low value-added
assembly because the requisite raw materials are not produced or
available locally. My company, Carbon Holdings, an Egypt-based
petrochemicals business, is currently finalising the financing for an
$11bn petrochemicals plant in the Suez economic zone. It will be the
largest downstream plant in Africa, with the potential to create
thousands and thousands of direct and indirect jobs and will, I
predict, help to double Egyptian exports within one year of coming
Basil El-Baz is founder, chairman and chief executive of Carbon Holdings
Mozambique church a refuge for Muslims and others after cyclone; 'human life is all we value' @AP.
Next to a marble pulpit inside a Catholic church, a young Muslim girl
chases around with other children.
The church has become a home for her and nearly 1,000 others from
different faiths as they wait out the aftermath of Mozambique’s latest
Situated in the heart of this predominantly Muslim but diverse city
ravaged by Cyclone Kenneth, the Maria Auxiliadora parish houses those
displaced by the storm in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost
“We don’t ask about people’s religions, human life is all we value,”
Father Ricardo Filipe Rosa Marques, the 41-year-old priest in charge,
told The Associated Press.
The government has said 41 people have died after the cyclone made
landfall on Thursday, and the humanitarian situation in Pemba and
other areas is dire.
More than 22 inches (55 centimeters) of rain have fallen in Pemba
since Kenneth arrived just six weeks after Cyclone Idai tore into
This is the first time two cyclones have struck the country in a
single season, and Kenneth was the first cyclone recorded so far north
in Mozambique in the era of satellite imaging.
“People here have suffered a lot. They have been through (Portuguese)
colonialism, civil war and the recent killings. They have been living
with scars for years yet their love and sense of sharing is amazing,”
“I am learning from them. The people here are teaching me how to be a
For whom the bell tolls a poem (No man is an island) by John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Atlas Mara Swaps Four African Banks for Stake in Kenya's @KeEquityBank
Atlas Mara Ltd. is shaking things up by exiting some of its operations
on the continent in exchange for a share of Kenya’s biggest bank by
The sub-Saharan African bank, founded by ex-Barclays Plc chief Bob
Diamond, will swap its operations in Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and
Tanzania for a 6.27 percent stake in Nairobi-based Equity Group
Holdings Plc, Atlas Mara said in a statement on Tuesday.
The transaction is worth about 10.7 billion shillings ($106 million),
Equity said in a separate statement.
The reorganization, which sees Chief Executive Officer John Staley
stepping down to pursue other interests, comes after a review of the
business that has struggled to contain costs that engulfed income and
its share price plummeted more than 80 percent since being listed in
London at the end of 2013.
Atlas Mara faced much stronger and bigger lenders in the seven African
nations where it operates, and also received criticism for overpaying
for some acquisitions.
The Atlas Mara executive team will report to Chairman Michael
Wilkerson, who also chairs Fairfax Africa Holdings Corp., which holds
49 percent of Atlas Mara after injecting funding into the company.
Getting a stake in Equity Group means Atlas Mara becomes a meaningful
shareholder in “one of Africa’s most successful and well-run banks,”
the company said.
The transaction will result in increased scale in Rwanda and Tanzania
once Atlas Mara and Equity combine their operations there, Atlas Mara
said. The deal will allow Equity Group to expand its footprint in
Africa, the Kenyan lender said.