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Trump welcomes US detainees freed by North Korea

US President Donald Trump has welcomed home three American detainees released by North Korea.

Trump said it was a "special night for these really great people" as they arrived at the Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.

The White House said the trio had been freed as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the planned meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump says the venue for the summit will be announced: "within three days".

The president said he appreciated that Kim had allowed the men to leave as "frankly we didn't think that was going to happen before the meeting". The three men, Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul, were smiling and waving and appeared in good health.

They said little in an impromptu chat before the media with Trump but released an earlier statement saying: "We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo and the people of the United States for bringing us home.
Source : BBC

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First female Afghan pilot granted asylum in US

Afghanistan’s first-ever female airline pilot, who was lauded as a mark of progress in the battle for progress on women’s rights there, has been accepted for asylum in the United States.

Niloofar Rahmani travelled to the US in 2015 to receive training. She said she and her family were facing threats from the Taliban, the militant group that has waged a decades-long war against the Afghan government.

The US paid for her travel and her training. Now, Washington says it remains too dangerous for her to return to her home country.

She applied for asylum in 2016, but only received the news on Monday. Her family remain in Afghanistan.
Source : The National

Wo04 Afghan pilot

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Malaysia's ruling coalition chairman Najib accepts general election result

Najib Razak, chairman of Malaysia's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional and the prime minister since 2009, said Thursday that he accepted the result of the general election, which saw his coalition lose to the opposition led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"I accept the verdict of the people," said Najib, without conceding defeat outright.

The opposition Pakatan Harapan and its allies won a simple majority in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday's election, potentially putting an end to BN's rule for more than 60 years.

However, Pakatan Harapan and its allies were not contending under one united banner like BN, so Najib said that since no party won a simple majority, it will be up to the ceremonial Supreme Head of State to make the decision to appoint the new prime minister.

Source :  Xhinua

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Pakistan Army aided Nawaz Sharif in rigging the 2013 elections, claims Imran Khan

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has alleged that the military had helped the deposed prime minister rig the 2013 general elections.

In an interview with Pakistan’s Geo TV on Thursday, the cricketer-turned-politician alleged that in Punjab, the returning officers (ROs) were not allowed entry into the polling stations during the consolidation of votes, saying that military men had made it possible.

“Be it the elections of 1990, 1996 or 2013, Nawaz Sharif had always played with his umpires. The military, the judiciary and the masses all had helped him,” Khan claimed.

Criticising Sharif’s ongoing rants against the security establishment, the PTI chief said: “Sharif is not complaining about the military’s dissent, rather he is complaining about the military’s lack of support for him.”

“Nawaz Sharif’s problem lies in the recent neutral stance adopted by the military and the judiciary.”

Responding to the former prime minister’s recent remarks on freedom of press, the PTI chief claimed that Sharif had vowed to conclude the mission of dictator Gen Ziaul Haq. “Nawaz Sharif never believed in freedom of press, not until recently.”

The PTI chief parried a question regarding the possibility of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan joining the PTI. “Given the current circumstances, timely elections appears to be a distant dream,” he added.

Earlier this week, Sharif said at a public rally that neither the PTI nor the PPP was his main political opponent, rather his fight is against the “unseen forces”.

Though Sharif did not mention who these “unseen forces” were, he was believed to be referring to the security establishment.

Source : The Tribune

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Malaysia heads to polls on election day

Millions of voters in Malaysia are heading to the polls in an election that will see the country's leader take on his 92-year-old former mentor.

Opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad will face off against PM Najib Razak's ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Such an opposition victory would be unprecedented in Malaysia, where BN has ruled for 61 years.

But critics have raised concerns the election will not be free and fair.

In the last election, in 2013, the opposition made unprecedented gains - winning the popular vote - but failed to win enough seats to form a government.

The government has insisted the election will be free and fair, with Mr Najib saying that the EC acted "for the good of all".

Voters will elect 222 members of parliament as well as state assembly members in 12 of the 13 states.

Malaysia uses a first-past-the-post electoral system, where the party that gets the most seats in parliament wins even if it does not win the popular vote.
Source : BBC

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Facebook harvested 3.5 billion Instagram images without warning their owners until today

Social media network Facebook has betrayed its users once again, this time by harvesting 3.5 billion Instagram photos for its research. 
FB 1Facebook has admitted to stealing billions of Instagram images (Source:AAP) 

Even your selfies and brunch photos aren’t safe from the long arm of Facebook, it was revealed overnight, as the tech giant admitted it had taken billions of photos from Instagram accounts around the world to boost its own research.

More than 3.5 billion photographs were harvested from the photo-sharing platform without users’ knowledge, chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer told the audience at the company's annual developers' conference F8, revealing they had been used to enhance the company’s artificial intelligence technology.

Schroepfer said Facebook had become overwhelmed with so much dangerous material “like offensive content, spam, hate speech, fake accounts, fake news, clickbait and more”, it had become too much for human moderators to regulate.

Instead, the company was creating an artificially intelligent moderation system, he said, to detect inappropriate images on its website.

To speed up its development — by “100 times”, he said — Facebook harvested any images shared on Instagram with hashtags, and fed the photographs into its own system over 22 days.

“We built some breakthrough technology that takes publicly available, hashtagged images at an unprecedented scale,” Schroepfer told the crowd.

“We require new breakthroughs, and we require new technologies to solve problems all of us want to solve.”

The images taken from Instagram, which Facebook bought for $US1 billion in 2012, not only included photographs of food, as it showed to the crowd, but more personal images such as family portraits.

Neither Instagram nor Facebook users were warned of the practice before the company mined their photos.

Facebook artificial intelligence and machine-learning director Srinivas Narayanan called its new approach “incredibly cool”, and revealed using people’s personal images delivered Facebook an advantage over fierce rival Google, with a 13.6 per cent improvement in recognising images.

FB 2

Facebook yesterday revealed plans for a dating service at its F8 conference in San Jose. Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP 

Narayanan said Facebook technology could now recognise the content of images with 85.4 per cent accuracy, compared to Google’s 79.2 per cent.

But he said it was still not good enough to recognise all “clickbait, engagement-bait, pornography, violence, and other inappropriate content” that flooded the social network.

“Some content is still more difficult for AI to understand,” Narayanan said.

“For example, it’s helping to detect hate speech but humans need to review it to understand the intent, the subtleties of language, and context.”

Facebook’s unexpected Instagram photo raid comes just weeks after the company’s biggest data scandal in its history, when it was revealed the social network shared the private details of 87 million users with a researcher, who sold them to political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The firm, which allegedly used the personal information to influence the 2016 US election, revealed it was shutting down today after it “determined that is no longer viable to continue operating as a business” in the wake of the scandal.

In a statement, the company said it had “been vilified for activities that are not only legal but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising”, but would continue to co-operate with investigators looking into its operations.

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Business Tycoon Vijay Mallya Loses Case, Banks Can Sell His UK Assets To Recover Dues

Tycoon Vijay Mallya lost a U.K. lawsuit filed by Indian banks seeking to collect more than 1.15 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) amid allegations that he committed massive fraud.

Judge Andrew Henshaw in London on Tuesday said the lenders, including IDBI Bank Ltd., can enforce an Indian court ruling that relates to allegations that Mallya willfully defaulted on about $1.4 billion in debt for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. Henshaw also refused to overturn a worldwide order freezing Mallya's assets.

The 62-year-old is fighting numerous lawsuits in the U.K. and his native country over fraud and money-laundering allegations. He was arrested in London more than a year ago and is waging another fight to block extradition in a different court about three miles across town.

Lawyers for Mallya declined to comment after the hearing. Henshaw refused permission to appeal Tuesday's ruling, meaning his attorneys will have to directly petition the Court of Appeal.

Attorneys at law firm TLT in London, who are representing the lenders said the ruling will allow them to enforce the underlying judgment by the Indian debt recovery tribunal immediately.

The asset freeze order had forced Mallya to live on 5,000 pounds a week, but his allowance was increased to roughly 20,000 pounds a week earlier this year, lawyers for the lenders said after the hearing.

Mallya was arrested in London April 18 on a warrant issued by Indian authorities accusing him of conspiring to defraud India's IDBI Bank through a 91 billion-rupee ($1.4 billion) loan to Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. -- a premium airline he founded in 2005 and shut down seven years later.

Mallya left India in 2016, saying he was moving to England to be closer to his children. He has refused to return to India and said he fears an unfair trial amid the "media frenzy and hysteria" over unpaid dues. Mallya has also said government agencies are pursuing a "heavily biased investigation" and holding him guilty without trial.

Source : NDTV

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Cambridge Analytica: Facebook data-harvest firm to shut

Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy at the centre of the Facebook data-sharing scandal, is shutting down.

The firm was accused of improperly obtaining personal information on behalf of political clients.

According to Facebook, data about up to 87 million of its members was harvested by a quiz app and then passed on to the political consultancy.

The social network said its own probe into the matter would continue.

"This doesn't change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again," said a spokesman.

"We are continuing with our investigation in cooperation with the relevant authorities."

Source : BBC

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1,000 Boko Haram Hostages Rescued by Nigerian Military

Nigeria’s military says it has rescued more than 1,000 people held captive in northeastern Nigeria by the jihadist group Boko Haram.

Brig Gen Texas Chukwu said Monday the hostages were rescued from four villages in the Bama area of Borno State.

He did not say when the rescues took place but said the military and the Multinational Joint Task Force helped with the release of mostly women and children. He said some men who had been forced to become Boko Haram fighters were among those rescued.

Boko Haram is responsible for thousands of abductions, especially of young girls and women, during its nine-year insurgency in Nigeria and surrounding countries.

Nigeria’s army has staged rescues before, but many victims, including some girls abducted from Chibok in 2014, remain missing.

Source : Time

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Singapore airport may use facial recognition systems to find late passengers

Ever been delayed on a flight because of straggling fellow passengers? 

sing 1A passenger passes through an automated immigration control gate at Changi airport's Terminal 4 in Singapore April 30, 2018. Picture taken April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White.

That might be an annoyance of the past at Singapore’s Changi airport which is testing facial recognition systems that could, in future, help locate lost travelers or those spending a little too much time in the duty-free shops.

Changi Airport, ranked the world’s best for six years straight in a survey by air travel consultancy Skytrax, is looking at how it can use the latest technologies to solve many problems - from cutting taxiing times on the runway to quicker predictions of flight arrivals.

It comes as the island state embarks on a ‘smart nation’ initiative to utilize technology to improve lives, create economic opportunity and build community ties. However the proposed use of cameras mounted on lampposts that are linked to facial recognition software has raised privacy concerns.

Steve Lee, Changi Airport Group’s chief information officer, told Reuters that the airport’s experiments are not from a “big brother” perspective but solve real problems.
“We have lots of reports of lost passengers...so one possible use case we can think of is, we need to detect and find people who are on the flight. Of course, with permission from the airlines,” said Lee.

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A passenger has his photograph taken by an automated luggage drop station at Changi airport's Terminal 4 in Singapore April 30, 2018. Picture taken April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White.

Facial recognition technology typically allows users to match the faces of people picked up on cameras with those in databases.
Lee said they have tested technology that could allow for this, and are working with various businesses, adding that they should have some capability to do this in a year’s time.

While he declined to provide names of the firms involved, France’s Idemia, previously known as OT-Morpho, has previously provided some facial recognition technology to Changi.  

Chinese firm Yitu, which recently opened its first international office in Singapore, told Reuters it was in discussions with Changi Airport Group. Yitu says its facial recognition platform is capable of identifying more than 1.8 billion faces in less than 3 seconds.

PASSPORT FREEChangi’s newest terminal, T4, already uses facial recognition technology to offer self-service options at check-in, bag drop, immigration and boarding.

The technology means there are fewer queues and fewer visible airport or security staff.

Luggage is dropped at unmanned booths that take your photo and match it against your passport. You are snapped again at an automated security gate at immigration - a picture that is used to verify your identity at the boarding gate.

Changi is exploring how facial recognition can be implemented in its three older terminals for automated bag drop and immigration.

The airport sees T4 as a test bed for its fifth terminal, which will be up and running in about a decade.

“Today you take passport, you show your face and you show your boarding pass,” said Lee, adding it may, however, be possible to use biometrics instead.

“Then actually in future, you just take your face. You don’t need your passport,” he said.

Other technology trials underway at the airport use sensors to measure when an aircraft pushes back from the gate and when it takes off, data that has improved decision-making and shaved about 90 seconds off of aircraft taxiing time per flight during peak hours, said Lee.

Another program uses artificial intelligence that gathers wind, weather and landing direction to learn to better predict flight arrival times.

With such technology, the airport is now able to estimate a flight’s landing time when it’s two hours away having previously only been able to make an accurate estimate 30 minutes to an hour ahead.

Lee said this helps create efficiencies in everything from gate planning to arrival queues. 

He said a smart nation strategy begins at a country’s airport. “You can’t say you are a smart nation when you come to the airport and it’s not so smart.” 


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Putin set to be inaugurated for fourth term as president of Russia

Vladimir Putin is due to be sworn in for a fourth term as president of Russia on Monday after winning the election in March.

He has been in power for 18 years, whether as president or prime minister, and opponents have likened his tenure to the reign of a tsar, or emperor.

Riot police confronted protesters against his rule in Moscow and other Russian cities on Saturday. There have been fears of new unrest on Monday as he takes office. 

The inauguration at the Kremlin in Moscow is likely to be lower-key than in 2012, AFP news agency reports.

Source : BBC

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BBC reporter killed in Afghanistan attack

A BBC reporter has been killed in an attack in the eastern Afghan province of Khost. Ahmad Shah, 29, had been working for the BBC Afghan service for more than a year.

In a statement, BBC World Service Director Jamie Angus said Shah was a "respected and popular" journalist.

"This is a devastating loss and I send my sincere condolences to Ahmad Shah's friends and family and the whole BBC News Afghan team," he said.
"We are doing all we can to support his family at this very difficult time."

Khost police chief Abdul Hanan told BBC Afghan that Shah had been shot by unidentified armed men. He said police were investigating the motive.

Locals told the BBC that Shah had been on his bicycle when the attack happened. He was taken by locals to hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Monday saw at least two other deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

At least 25 people were killed in two bombings in the capital, Kabul, including eight journalists and four police officers, interior minister spokesperson Najib Danish told the BBC. Some 45 people were reported injured in the attacks.

A suicide bomb attack in the Kandahar region killed 11 schoolchildren and injured many more.

Last year, Afghanistan was ranked the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists by Reporters without Borders. It said nine journalists had been killed in three separate attacks.

In June, BBC driver Mohammed Nazir was killed in a bomb attack in Kabul's central secure zone.

Some 400 people were injured by the blast and more than 150 people were killed.

Source : BBC

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