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An independent monitoring group in Pakistan has expressed concern about the state of human rights in the country and called for the immediate redressal of the issues highlighted in its annual report, released Monday.
The report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, or HRCP, said freedom of expression was violated to an “unprecedented level” under the “opaque shroud of ‘national security concerns.’” The report, State of Human Rights in 2018, also said journalists faced harassment from state institutions and took to self-censorship to avoid intimidation. Coverage of certain events faced a media blackout, it said.
The HRCP itself faced the consequences of highlighting the state of human rights when authorities raided the home of the editor of the 2017 report. “She was held for over an hour, threatened with physical violence, questioned, and robbed for good measure,” the authors pointed out.
The 2018 review also highlighted other issues, like the tenuous state of minority rights, child rights, labor rights, and the general lack of quick and effective administration of justice, among others. Separately, the report said elections last year were marred by alleged vote-rigging. There was no immediate government response to the findings.
Modern day slavery
Pakistan is ranked eighth on the 2018 Global Slavery Index, with an estimated 3 million people living in modern day slavery or “bonded labor.” Around 12 million children are estimated to be working as child laborers and close to 23 million children do not attend school. In addition, only 4 percent of the country’s children receive a “minimally acceptable diet” according to the United Nations, saying the issue leads to stunted growth.
The instances of child sex abuse also rose sharply last year, with a 75 percent rise in reported sexual abuse in children under the age of 5, according to the HRCP.
Separately, Pakistan was named the second worst in terms of gender equality in the Global Gender Gap Index 2018. Despite the passage of several laws to protect women, violence against them persisted.
Pakistan spends less than 1 percent of its GDP on the health sector, leading to an increased dependency on the private sector to fill the gap and a rising cost of health care. The HRCP report also cited a backlog of almost 2 million cases pending in various courts of Pakistan by the end of 2018, overwhelming the system and pointing to the need to urgently reform the judicial system.
Rights to freedom
The rights to freedom of assembly, association, or political participation were violated by various state institutions through detention of activists, restrictions or banning of international non-governmental organizations, and “excessive and arbitrary use of Exit Control List,” that bans a person from traveling outside the country, according to the report.
Minorities continued to suffer violence and cases of abductions and forced conversions to Islam, HRCP said.
The rights organization also criticized a court ruling that demanded that all people applying to government jobs declare their faith on their applications, as well as a government decision to withdraw the name of an economist, Atif Mian, from an economic advisory council after Islamist religious groups criticized his Ahmadiyya faith.
Rights of disabled people and a concern for the environment also remained paramount, the report said. Pakistan is among the top 10 countries impacted by global warming and parts of the country are experiencing drought-like conditions.
HRCP also noted that Pakistan continued to ignore requests for country visits from U.N. Special Rapporteurs to monitor the condition of human rights in the country.
Although the general state of human rights remained grim, HRCP said there were some positive developments. A new law allowed transgender persons to define their own sexual identity, more women participated as candidates in last year’s general elections than ever before, and for the first time, a transgender candidate contested the elections. In the Sindh province, a record number of labor-related measures included the first ever law to protect domestic workers. Pakistan also pledged to the Human Rights Council that it was going to uphold the rights of all its citizens. (VOA)
As robots evolve to do more work around us, the UK-based humanoid robot manufacturer Engineered Arts has infused more human-like facial expressions into one of its robots, which may leave you with an eerie feeling.
In a video posted on YouTube, the robot called 'Ameca' displays various human expressions, like appearing to "wake up" from sleep, as its face shows confusion and frustration when it opens its eyes.
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Once awake, 'Ameca' starts looking at its hands and arms, opens its mouth and raises its eyebrows, just like a human does.
At the end of the video, Ameca smiles and holds a welcoming hand out towards the viewer.
According to Engineered Arts, the humanoid bot is currently unable to walk and it is working towards giving it the ability in the near future.
"Designed specifically as a platform for development into future robotics technologies, 'Ameca' is the perfect humanoid robot platform for human-robot interaction," says the company.
The 'Ameca' hardware is a development based on its own research into humanoid robotics and built on its advanced 'Mesmer' technology.
Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.Unsplash
Also read: NASA humanoid robot dances to technology
Engineered Arts is slated to put 'Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.
"Human-like Artificial Intelligence needs a human-like artificial body. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems can be tested and developed on Ameca alongside our powerful 'Tritium' robot operating system," the company posted on its website. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Humanoid Robot, Ameca, Technology)
Microsoft has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group, gaining control of the malicious websites the group used to attack organisations in the US and 28 other countries around the world.
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) said in a statement that a federal court in Virginia granted its request to seize websites of the hacking group called 'Nickel', enabling the company to cut off Nickel's access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks.
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"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.
Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft's secure servers will help the company protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities.
Also Read : Fortnite : A Gold Mine for Hackers
"Our disruption will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities, but we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks," Burt said late on Monday.
To date, in 24 lawsuits - five against nation-state actors -- Microsoft has taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 sites used by nation-state actors.
"We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future," the tech giant informed.
"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations."Unsplash
In some observed activity, Nickel malware used exploits targeting unpatched on-premises Exchange Server and SharePoint systems.
"However, we have not observed any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products as part of these attacks. Microsoft has created unique signatures to detect and protect from known Nickel activity through our security products, like Microsoft 365 Defender," the company noted.
Nickel has targeted organisations in both the private and public sectors, including diplomatic organisations and ministries of foreign affairs in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : hacking, China, Microsoft, website, victim, intelligence, attack, malicious, traffic, server, company, disruption, lawsuits, cybercriminals, vulnerability.)
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Chip manufacturer MediaTek on Monday announced that it is focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, substantial expansion in Research and Development capabilities.
MediaTek's plans to boost technology democratisation and enable access to disruptive connectivity with its range of mainstream to flagship 5G chips.
"We at MediaTek are focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, and substantial expansion in our R&D capabilities. For 2022, we are focused on further strengthening our presence in India, offering incredible experiences to customers, and supporting the country's technology initiatives with our expertise and collaboration with leading OEMs," Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India said in a statement.
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In the flagship segment, MediaTek recently announced the Dimensity 9000 chip, which is a milestone of innovation and a rise to the incredible, built-to-power flagship 5G smartphones in the world, the company claims.
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 features a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
It packs a 10-core Arm Mali-G710 that takes care of graphics processing, the report said.
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.Unsplash
Also read: Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.
The chipset can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolutions. It is also the first chipset to have an 18-bit image signal processor, offering the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320MP sensor. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: 5G, smartphones, Mediatek)