Tag Archives: science & technology

China’s soybean imports in August from Brazil rose 22% from the previous year | Instant News

BEIJING, Sept 25 (Reuters) – China’s August soybean imports from Brazil rose 22% from a year ago, customs data showed on Friday, as buyers increased their purchases to take advantage of higher margins earlier this year.

China, the world’s biggest buyer of soybeans, brought 8.15 million tonnes of oilseed from Brazil in August, up from 6.68 million tonnes last year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Crushers are increasing purchases from the South American country to meet strong demand for feed from the recovering hog industry.

Imports fell from 8.18 million tonnes in July.

China imported 9.6 million tonnes of soybeans throughout August.

“Buyers order lots of Brazilian cargoes early when profit margins are good,” said a crushing manager in southern China before the data came out.

“Now the profit margins have dropped due to the higher costs (of coffee beans),” said the manager, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Soybean arrivals in the coming months are expected to remain high, however, with more cargo arriving from the United States while deliveries in Brazil are slow, according to analysts and traders.

China imported 166,370 tonnes of soybeans from the US in August, down 90% from 1.68 million tonnes last year, and up from 38,333 tonnes in July.

National soybean inventory CFD-SBSTK-NATN rose to 7,934 million tonnes in the week of September 13, the highest since the week of October 30, 2018, and more than double the record low in March, according to data from Cofeed.

China’s national supply of soybean meal CFD-SBMST-NATN rose to 1.27 million tonnes in the week of August 30, the second highest on record, before edging down this month. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)


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The UK will host a ‘human challenge’ trial for the COVID-19 vaccine – FT | Instant News

(Reuters) – Britain plans to host a clinical trial in which volunteers are intentionally infected with the new coronavirus to test the effectiveness of a vaccine candidate, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people involved in the project.

FILE PHOTO: A woman holding a small bottle labeled with the sticker “COVID-19 vaccine” and the medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration // File Photo

The so-called “challenge trials” are expected to begin in January at quarantine facilities in London, the report said, adding that some 2,000 participants had registered through US-based advocacy group 1Day Sooner. (on.ft.com/2G5o0jP)

The study will be government funded, the FT reported, although 1Day Sooner said it would launch a petition for public funding of a biocontainment facility large enough to quarantine 100 to 200 participants.

Imperial College London, who was reported to be the lead academic at the trial, did not confirm the study.

“Imperial continues to be involved in various exploratory discussions related to COVID-19 research, with various partners. We have nothing left to report at this stage, ”said a spokesperson, asked about a possible challenge trial.

Any trial conducted in the United Kingdom must be approved by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), a health care regulator that is concerned with safety and protocols.

The UK government and the MHRA did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment, but 1Day Sooner, who is lobbying a test challenge to speed up vaccine development, welcomed the report.

“1Day Sooner congratulates the British government on their plans to carry out a vaccine trial trial,” he said in a statement, confirming he would petition the government to accommodate the trial participants.

The industry has seen discussion in recent months about the possibility of having to inject healthy volunteers with the new coronavirus if drugmakers struggle to find enough patients for final trials.

The FT report said that volunteers would first be inoculated with the vaccine and then receive a challenge dose of the coronavirus. It did not mention which vaccines would be assessed in the project.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca and French company Sanofi told Reuters their vaccine candidate was not involved in the program.

Reporting by Manas Mishra, Pushkala Aripaka and Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru, Kate Kelland and Alistair Smout in London, Matthias Blamont in Paris, and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Edited by Shinjini Ganguli and Elaine Hardcastle


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Has the technology giant become too strong? | United States of America | Instant News

Critics of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook have long accused US companies of abusing their power to drive out competition and mismanage user data.

The US Congress has questioned the company’s chief executive as part of a year-long investigation into their business practices.

So, has the internet giant become too strong? And is there a need for new laws to regulate them?

Master of Ceremony: Imran Khan


Larry Irving – former assistant US secretary of commerce for communication and information

Itika Sharma Punit – editor at Quartz India

Mark Coeckelbergh – member, European Commission Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence

Source: Al Jazeera


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Police hacking EncroChat set a dangerous precedent | English | Instant News

On July 2, the British National Crime Agency (NCA) announced that after cross-country investigations, more than 800 people were arrested in several European countries for illicit trafficking in drugs and weapons. The operation was launched after French police successfully intercepted a message on EncroChat, an encrypted message platform operated on a modified Android device.

These arrests have been celebrated by international police forces, and have been panting reportedly by the media, who quickly label those arrested by “criminals” and “touched icons”. The due process and presumption of innocence that we expect in developed democracies appear to have been eliminated in the search for headlines, which were triggered by intelligent police PR departments.

But while this operation provides clickbait articles and enhances public perceptions about “fairness being done”, there are serious questions about effectiveness and ethics.

There are many legitimate concerns raised by lawyers. First, there is a lack of transparency about how French authorities gain access to messages, and whether proper legal procedures are followed to ensure the integrity of evidence.

Because of the sensational press briefings, every jury in future trials will almost certainly be burdened by media coverage, not only of those who were arrested recently but anyone in the future found using encrypted devices.

The danger here is, for defendants who face trials where evidence is weak and methods are questionable, they may still be convicted because the jury hears “encrypted chatter” and thinks “criminal”.

There is also the danger of “collateral intrusion”. There are lawyers who use EncroChat to communicate with their clients. This means that the authorities have almost certainly seen privileged and confidential communication between suspects and their lawyers – maybe even lawyers who will represent them after this arrest. Information obtained in this way may not be received in court, but can still be detrimental to the investigation.

There are a number of real difficulties with this case, including in establishing that there is no misuse of the process when information is obtained and determining without a doubt that messages from certain telephones are indeed sent by certain individuals. In this case, it can be imagined that the authorities might get no more than headlines in most cases. Perhaps the headlines – as well as the seizure of that asset the benefits their own department – all they want.

Even more worrying is the implications for all of our civil liberties. Privacy is a human right – perhaps one of the most fundamental rights, and one that clearly distinguishes between advanced democracy on one side and authoritarian dictatorship on the other.

The fact that privacy will sometimes be abused by criminals is not a justification for being denied to most law-abiding ones. Reported to exist 60,000 EncroChat users are global, but only 800 of them were captured during the recent operation. Some users may be criminals, but many are business people, politicians, lawyers or just individuals who only want to use secure encrypted communication for various personal reasons.

That’s why, we have to find out especially about the statements made by Nikki Holland, director of investigations at NCA, warning that “If you have one of these devices, worry that we might come to you.”

Most people won’t worry, because they probably only heard about EncroChat yesterday. But what is the difference, in legal or ethical terms, between one encrypted chat application and another?

Many of us regularly use Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp, which is also an encrypted chat. Given the repeated telephone hacking scandal, our interest in privacy, especially if we share personal or commercially sensitive information, can certainly be understood. So how long does it take to use an encrypted messenger application to become a crime on its own?

We seem to be on a slippery slope to a place where anyone who enjoys his privacy is guilty until proven innocent, and where authorities in Europe will treat with suspicion anyone who chooses to communicate on a platform other than officially approved (and possibly the government -cause).

We might hope such behavior from China or Russia, but not England or France. To protect the public, European police forces must rely on thorough investigations and reliable evidence, not shadow hacking techniques and sensational headlines that erode justice and jeopardize our freedom.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial attitude.


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Who is responsible when surveillance technology is misused? | Science & Technology | Instant News

Activists, journalists, and even one of the richest people in the world are said to have been hacked by spyware developed by an Israeli company called the NSO Group.

But the technology company insisted its products were only sold to government agencies authorized to fight “terrorism and crime”.

The rights group Amnesty International said one of its researchers was also targeted. They demanded the NSO to revoke its export permit from the Israeli defense ministry.

The court in Tel Aviv rejected the case after six months of trial behind closed doors, allowing the company to continue selling products overseas.

So who should be held responsible when surveillance technology is misused?

Master of Ceremony: Imran Khan


Nolen Gertz – Assistant professor, Twente University in the Netherlands

Amichai Stein – Political analyst

Nishanth Sastry – Professor of computer science, University of Surrey

Source: Al Jazeera


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