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China is using a mobile app to gather and store data on 13 million ethnic minority Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Thursday.
The report, “China’s Algorithms of Repression: Reverse Engineering a Xinjiang Police Mass Surveillance App,” analyzes how a Chinese-made mobile app helps XUAR authorities conduct “illegal mass surveillance and arbitrary detention of Muslims.”
The New York-based watchdog group worked for 14 months with German security firm Cure53 to reverse engineer the mobile app that officials use to connect to the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), a Xinjiang policing program that flags people deemed potentially threatening.
“The goal is apparently to identify patterns of, and predict, the everyday life and resistance of its population, and, ultimately, to engineer and control reality,” HRW said in the report.
“The IJOP platform tracks everyone in Xinjiang. It monitors people’s movements by tracing their phones, vehicles, and ID cards. It keeps track of people’s use of electricity and gas stations,” said the report.
The government’s “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism” (Strike Hard Campaign) “has turned Xinjiang into one of China’s major centers for using innovative technologies for social control,” HRW said.
“Many—perhaps all—of the mass surveillance practices described in this report appear to be contrary to Chinese law. They violate the internationally guaranteed rights to privacy, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and to freedom of association and movement,” HRW said in a statement.
“Their impact on other rights, such as freedom of expression and religion, is profound,” the group said.
36 types of people targeted
“Our research shows, for the first time, that Xinjiang police are using illegally gathered information about people’s completely lawful behavior – and using it against them,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at HRW.
“The Chinese government is monitoring every aspect of people’s lives in Xinjiang, picking out those it mistrusts, and subjecting them to extra scrutiny.”
HRW analysis of the app showed that the IJOP police platform targets 36 types of people for data collection.
Among those targeted are people who have stopped using smart phones, who use an “abnormal amount of electricity,” who do not use their front doors, who fail to “socialize with neighbors,” and who “collected money or materials for mosques with enthusiasm.”
Previous reporting by RFA has revealed that frequent travel abroad, overseas study, and having family members abroad have led to the incarceration of numerous Uyghurs as well as Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, fellow Turkic Muslims.
“Official documents state that individuals ‘who ought to be taken, should be taken, suggesting the goal is to maximize the number of people they find ‘untrustworthy’ in detention, said the HRW report.
“Those people are then interrogated without basic protections. They have no right to legal counsel, and some are tortured or otherwise mistreated, for which they have no effective redress,” said HRW.
HRW says the IJOP is programmed to treat many ordinary and lawful activities as “indicators of suspicious behavior.” These include having any one of 51 suspicious internet tools on their phones, including WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
“While Xinjiang’s systems are particularly intrusive, their basic designs are similar to those the police are planning and implementing throughout China,” HRW said.
Vast camp system
The advocacy group called on China to “immediately shut down the IJOP platform and delete all the data that it has collected” and urged foreign governments to impose targeted sanctions against the XUAR Communist Party Secretary, Chen Quanguo, and other senior officials in Xinjiang and to impose export controls to prevent the Chinese government from obtaining such surveillance technologies.
Chen is seen as the architect of a program under which some 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas who are being held in political “re-education camps” across the Xinjiang XUAR since April 2017.
Though Beijing initially denied the existence of re-education camps, Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the XUAR, told China’s official Xinhua news agency in October 2018 that the facilities are an effective tool to protect the country from terrorism and provide vocational training for Uyghurs.
Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.
Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, earlier this month said that some 1.5 million people are or have been detained in the camps—equivalent to just under 1 in 6 members of the adult Muslim population of the XUAR—after initially putting the number at 1.1 million.
In November 2018, Scott Busby, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State, said there are “at least 800,000 and possibly up to a couple of million” Uyghurs and others detained at re-education camps in the XUAR without charges, citing U.S. intelligence assessments. (RFA)
Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a new study. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found there was, on average, a 17 per cent improvement in participants' colour contrast vision when exposed to three minutes of 670 nanometre (long wavelength) deep red light in the morning and the effects of this single exposure lasted for at least a week.
However, when the same test was conducted in the afternoon, no improvement was seen. "We demonstrate that one single exposure to long wave deep red light in the morning can significantly improve declining vision, which is a major health and wellbeing issue, affecting millions of people globally," said lead author, Glen Jeffery from the University College London.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m | Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash
For the study, the team involved a small yet significant number of participants aged between 34 and 70, had no ocular disease, completed a questionnaire regarding eye health prior to testing, and had normal colour vision (cone function). This was assessed using a 'Chroma Test' -- identifying coloured letters that had very low contrast and appeared increasingly blurred, a process called colour contrast.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Their colour vision was then tested again three hours post exposure and 10 of the participants were also tested one week post exposure. On average there was a 'significant' 17 per cent improvement in colour vision, which lasted a week in tested participants; in some older participants, there was a 20 per cent improvement, also lasting a week.
A few months on from the first test (ensuring any positive effects of the deep red light had been 'washed out') few participants, carried out the same test in the afternoon, between 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. When participants then had their colour vision tested again, it showed zero improvement. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Deep red light, therapy, eye sight, study,chroma test
As the world reopens after 18-20 months of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, a new variant of the coronavirus -- called B.1.1.529 -- has been identified in South Africa that has left the scientific community worried, as they fear that this new strain could fuel outbreaks in several countries and cripple health systems once again. Over 100 cases have been detected in South Africa, where the new strain is slowly becoming the dominant one.
Here are five things you should know about this deadly super Covid variant that has forced a number of countries, including the UK, Israel, Italy and Singapore, to restrict travel from South Africa and other countries in the region.
1. According to South African health officials, the 'B.1.1.529' variant has many more mutations than scientists expected, especially after a severe third wave, which was driven by the Delta variant. Many of the mutations are of concern for immune evasion and transmissibility.
2. B.1.1.529 carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which plays a key role in the virus' entry into cells in the human body. The B.1.1.529 variant has 50 mutations overall, including more than 30 on the spike protein alone which is the target of most current Covid vaccines.
The new strain "likely evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient".| Flickr
3. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it will take a few weeks to understand the impact of the new variant. Scientists have said it is the most heavily mutated version yet, which means vaccines, which were designed using the original strain from Wuhan in China, may not be as effective. The WHO has called a meeting to discuss B.1.1.529 and decide if it will be officially designated a variant of concern.
4. First identified in South Africa this week, the strain has spread to nearby countries, including Botswana. Israel has identified a case of a Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations "in a person who returned from Malawi". Two cases have been detected in Hong Kong. India has called for rigorous screening of passengers from South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong.
5. There are still speculations floating around the variant's origin. According to Francois Balloux, Director of the London-based UCL Genetics Institute, the new strain "likely evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient". (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: pandemic, Delta, Lethal, B.1.1.529, New COVID Strain
By- Erik Schmidt
Many industries have been shut down to the global covid-19 pandemic; betting is one of the most affected industries.
By August of last year, most betting shops were closed due to the lockdown issued by the government worldwide. It was announced recently that the pre-tax profits fell by 91% and the betting operators are facing great struggles due to this pandemic.
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One of the great things betting industries have accomplished during this pandemic is changing betting from land-based to digital wagering. Online betting has offered better odds and features to the modern bettor and has given betting industries good profits. How does this affect betting shops? Will they stand a chance is of surviving during this pandemic? Should they give way to online betting to take over?
You have to check on online betting websites and windows of land-based bettors to understand how much they depend on professional sporting events. Sports like football, tennis, horse racing, golf, cricket, basketball, dart, and baseball stopped due to covid-19, thus greatly affecting the income of betting.
Brick and Mortar casinos are also remained closed due to this pandemic and it's also not easy to being back bettors to a land-based casino because of all the regulations that have to be followed. The online casino did not greatly suffer during this pandemic compared to the land-based casino. They saw an increase since most bettors used online casinos. To understand how massive the online betting industry has become, Wetten.com explains more. But the question is, what is the future of the betting industry post-covid-19?
The future looks bright in sports betting; some major events such as the PGA tour and English premier league have resumed despite the outbreak of covid-19. The events are taking place, although the fans are not allowed inside the venue; they have allowed online and offline bookmakers to accept bets.
There is a possibility of a second outbreak of this pandemic. So the betting industry should be ready for anything because there is a possibility of sports events being discontinued in the future. It is worth introducing casino games and eSports to online bookmakers that don't offer these services. It's a good time for land-based bookmakers to offer online sports betting as they can be asked to close again in the future.
Also Read: Why Is Online Betting So Popular In India?
Online casinos have the chance to operate despite the lockdown situation. But they can also suffer a loss since most people are out of work and can't spend their money on entertainment. Betting is always resilient, even in worse financial status, but there is no assurance that the trend continues since the world is dealing with something that has never occurred before.
The betting industry, just like any other great industry, must consider taking things step by step. Hopefully, things will get back to normal if the pandemic improves. Still, if it is the opposite, online betting websites must be ready with other alternatives for sports betting, just like casino games.
How can betting shops stay in business?
There are two things betting operators have to do to stay afloat. The first one is changing into the digital side, for that is the only option they have. Despite them changing to the digital side, they also have to find ways to help their customers switch over to mobile betting.
Operators should also create an exclusive privilege for VIP players by sectioning their shops where the VIP players can sit and enjoy extra perks. By practicing these two things, the chances of survival for the betting industry will increase.
Practices to use to maintain the betting shops.
Change the payment methods by avoiding cash, instead let the clients use banking methods, credit cards and PayPal to reduce contact with clients.
Make sure players have a proper social distance.
Ensure players spend time in one sector, and this is possible by offering games that don't require movement within the building.
Always decontaminate the building.
How will Virtual Reality Technology help the betting industry?
Gaming machines are the best to make sure that your betting business success. Terminals used in the Virtual Reality Tech allow players to enjoy slots and virtual sports using the same machine. Players feel more secure being able to bet on every game on the same device. With one machine only being used, it reduces contamination since the machine will be contaminated between players.
It's been a whole year since the pandemic began and though it's not over yet, things will get back to normal. The betting industry is not a stranger to the problems caused by the pandemic. The online betting industry is still operating and has also grown, but the retail sector has gone through economic losses. The retail sector can survive the pandemic by following the above measures.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and includes some commercial links)