China

China's Scientists Set New International Record -- For Faked Peer Reviews (nytimes.com) 73

China now has more laboratory scientists than any other country in the world, reports Amy Qin in the New York Times, and spends more on research than the entire European Union. But in its rush to dominance, China has stood out in another, less boastful way. Since 2012, the country has retracted more scientific papers because of faked peer reviews than all other countries and territories put together, according to Retraction Watch, a blog that tracks and seeks to publicize retractions of research papers... In April, a scientific journal retracted 107 biology research papers, the vast majority of them written by Chinese authors, after evidence emerged that they had faked glowing reviews of their articles. Then, this summer, a Chinese gene scientist who had won celebrity status for breakthroughs once trumpeted as Nobel Prize-worthy was forced to retract his research when other scientists failed to replicate his results. At the same time, a government investigation highlighted the existence of a thriving online black market that sells everything from positive peer reviews to entire research articles...

In part, these numbers may simply reflect the enormous scale of the world's most populous nation. But Chinese scientists also blame what they call the skewed incentives they say are embedded within their nation's academic system.

China

8.5-Ton Chinese Space Station Will Crash To Earth In a Few Months (cnbc.com) 103

dryriver writes: China launched a space laboratory named Tiangong 1 into orbit in 2011. The space laboratory was supposed to become a symbol of China's ambitious bid to become a space superpower. After two years in space, Tiangong 1 started experiencing technical failure. Last year Chinese officials confirmed that the space laboratory had to be scrapped. The 8.5 ton heavy space laboratory has begun its descent towards Earth and is expected to crash back to Earth within the next few months.

Most of the laboratory is expected to burn up in earth's atmosphere, but experts believe that pieces as heavy as 100 kilograms (220 pounds) may survive re-entry and impact earth's surface. Nobody will be able to predict with any precision where those chunks of space laboratory will land on Earth until a few hours before re-entry occurs. The chance that anyone would be harmed by Tiangong-1's debris is considered unlikely.


When NASA's SkyLab fell to earth in 1979, an Australian town fined them $400 -- for littering.
China

Why China is Winning the Clean Energy Race (axios.com) 212

An anonymous reader shares a report: U.S. politicians have been warning for years that America couldn't let China win the clean energy race. That's exactly what has happened, with the trends most stark in electric cars, solar and nuclear energy. Why it matters: Building for the last decade, these trends have accelerated in the last couple of years. Politicians and business leaders said America's dominance in this space would bring jobs to the U.S. and security to our clean-energy resources, and now both of those goals are at risk. Why China is doing this: It needs to literally energize its 1.4 billion people, both how they travel and how they power their homes. Its leadership feels compelled to do it in a cleaner way than the U.S. did. Air pollution is at dangerously high levels across many of China's cities. People are seeing and feeling health repercussions of China's dependence on fossil fuel-fired cars and power plants in an acute way. Traditional air pollution, not climate change, is a big driver.
Businesses

Qualcomm Seeks China iPhone Ban, Escalating Apple Legal Fight (bloomberg.com) 36

Qualcomm filed lawsuits in China seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of iPhones in the country, the chipmaker's biggest shot at Apple so far in a sprawling and bitter legal fight. From a report: The San Diego-based company aims to inflict pain on Apple in the world's largest market for smartphones and cut off production in a country where most iPhones are made. The product provides almost two-thirds of Apple's revenue. Qualcomm filed the suits in a Beijing intellectual property court claiming patent infringement and seeking injunctive relief, according to Christine Trimble, a company spokeswoman. "Apple employs technologies invented by Qualcomm without paying for them," Trimble said. An Apple spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. Qualcomm's suits are based on three non-standard essential patents, it said. They cover power management and a touch-screen technology called Force Touch that Apple uses in current iPhones, Qualcomm said. The inventions "are a few examples of the many Qualcomm technologies that Apple uses to improve its devices and increase its profits," Trimble said. The company made the filings at the Beijing court on Sept. 29. The court has not yet made them public.
Security

US Weapons Data Stolen During Raid of Australian Defense Contractor's Computers (wsj.com) 78

phalse phace writes: Another day, another report of a major breach of sensitive U.S. military and intelligence data. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), "A cyberattacker nicknamed 'Alf' gained access to an Australian defense contractor's computers and began a four-month raid that snared data on sophisticated U.S. weapons systems. Using the simple combinations of login names and passwords 'admin; admin' and 'guest; guest' and exploiting a vulnerability in the company's help-desk portal, the attacker roved the firm's network for four months. The identity and affiliation of the hackers in the Australian attack weren't disclosed, but officials with knowledge of the intrusion said the attack was thought to have originated in China."

The article goes on to state that "Alf obtained around 30 gigabytes of data on Australia's planned purchase of up to 100 F-35 fighters made by Lockheed Martin, as well as information on new warships and Boeing-built P-8 Poseidon maritime-surveillance aircraft, in the July 2016 breach." The stolen data also included details of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and guided bombs used by the U.S. and Australian militaries as well as design information "down to the captain's chair" on new warships for Australia's navy.

Software

Symantec CEO: Source Code Reviews Pose Unacceptable Risk (reuters.com) 172

In an exclusive report from Reuters, Symantec's CEO says it is no longer allowing governments to review the source code of its software because of fears the agreements would compromise the security of its products. From the report: Tech companies have been under increasing pressure to allow the Russian government to examine source code, the closely guarded inner workings of software, in exchange for approvals to sell products in Russia. Symantec's decision highlights a growing tension for U.S. technology companies that must weigh their role as protectors of U.S. cybersecurity as they pursue business with some of Washington's adversaries, including Russia and China, according to security experts. While Symantec once allowed the reviews, Clark said that he now sees the security threats as too great. At a time of increased nation-state hacking, Symantec concluded the risk of losing customer confidence by allowing reviews was not worth the business the company could win, he said.
China

Chinese State Media Report Bloated Battery in Apple's iPhone 8 (reuters.com) 36

A fresh case of Apple's new iPhone popping open due to a swollen battery has been reported in state media in China, the world's biggest smartphone market where the U.S. firm is seeking to revive faltering sales. From a report: The incident comes as Apple investigates similar cases reported in Taiwan and Japan of batteries in its latest iPhone 8 Plus becoming bloated, causing the device's casing to open. On its website on Thursday, China's state-backed ThePaper.cn cited an iPhone buyer surnamed Liu as saying his newly purchased iPhone 8 Plus arrived cracked open on Oct. 5. There was no sign of scorching or an explosion. Liu told ThePaper he bought the handset through online marketplace of JD.com. He said he did not charge the new device and returned it to the seller. The fresh reports comes on the heels of another story last week where Apple claimed that it was looking into a similar matter.
China

Beijing Startup Offers Engineers $1M Salary Plus Options in Battle For Talent (financialpost.com) 119

An anonymous reader shares a Financial Post report: Beijing ByteDance Technology is the brainchild of entrepreneur Zhang Yiming. The company is best known for a mobile app called Jinri Toutiao, or Today's Headlines, which aggregates news and videos from hundreds of media outlets. In five years, the app has become one of the most popular news services anywhere, with 120 million daily users. Toutiao is on pace to pull in about US$2.5 billion in revenue this year, largely from advertising. It was just valued at more than US$20 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, roughly the same as Elon Musk's SpaceX. In China, the Beijing company is controversial because of its recruiting. ByteDance hires top performers from such giants as Baidu and Tencent Holdings, sometimes raising salaries 50 per cent and tossing in stock options. "Our philosophy is to pay the top of the market to get the best," says the slight 34-year-old in an interview at the company's headquarters, his first with foreign media. "The company that wants to achieve the most, you need the best talent." Top performers can make US$1 million in salary and bonus a year, plus options, according to people familiar with its hiring. Total compensation can exceed US$3 million.
Businesses

Dawn of Solar Age Declared as PV Beats All Other Forms of Power (bloomberg.com) 398

Solar power blossomed faster than for any other fuel for the first time in 2016, the International Energy Agency said in a report suggesting the technology will dominate renewables in the years ahead. From a report: The institution established after the first major oil crisis in 1973 said 165 gigawatts of renewables were completed last year, which was two-thirds of the net expansion in electricity supply. Solar grew by 50 percent, with almost half new plants built in China. "What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV," Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement accompanying the report published on Wednesday in Paris. "We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022." This marks the sixth consecutive year that clean energy has set records for installations. Mass manufacturing and a switch by governments away from fixed payments for renewables forced down the cost of wind and solar technology. The IEA expects about 1,000 gigawatts of renewables will be installed in the next five years, a milestone that coal only accomplished after 80 years. That quantity of electricity surpasses what's consumed in China, India and Germany combined.
The Internet

North Korea Gets Second Route To Internet Via Russia Link (bloomberg.com) 73

Russia is providing North Korea another way to get on the internet, according to cybersecurity outfit FireEye. In an interview on Monday, FireEye's chief technology officer for the Asia-Pacific region, Bryce Boland, said that Russia telecommunications company TransTeleCom opened a new link for users in North Korea. Until now, state-owned China United Network Communications Ltd. was the country's sole connection. Bloomberg reports: "Having an additional loop via Russia gives North Korea more options for how they can operate and reduces the possibility for the United States to put pressure just on a single country to turn off their internet connectivity," Boland said. For Russia, it offers "visibility into North Korean network traffic that might help them understand what North Korea is up to." TransTeleCom, a unit of state-owned Russian Railways JSC, is one of the country's five largest communications service providers, according to its website. The company operates a fiber optic network that runs along railway lines and stretches from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. TransTeleCom "has historically had a junction of network links with North Korea" under a 2009 agreement with Korea Post and Telecommunications Corp, the company's press office said in an emailed statement that offered no other details.
Businesses

Goldman Sachs Explores a New World: Trading Bitcoin (wsj.com) 43

Several readers share a report: Goldman Sachs is weighing a new trading operation dedicated to bitcoin and other digital currencies, the first blue-chip Wall Street firm preparing to deal directly in this burgeoning yet controversial market (Editor's note: the link from WSJ, which originally reported this development, could be paywalled; alternative source), according to people familiar with the matter. Goldman's effort is in its early stages and may not proceed, the people said. The firm's interest, though, could boost bitcoin's standing among investors and fuel the debate around digital currencies, which were initially viewed as havens for illicit activity but are pushing further into the mainstream investment world. China in recent weeks has banned exchanges that trade bitcoin, fearing the virtual currency could provide an avenue for capital flight. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive James Dimon, whose bank is the largest dealer in global currencies, last month called bitcoin a "fraud" and said he would fire any employee who traded it. Yet Japan's government has embraced bitcoin, creating regulations to legitimize its trading. India and Sweden have mused about creating their own virtual currencies, and the U.S. Federal Reserve has studied bitcoin and the technology underpinning it.
Businesses

Equifax CEO: All Companies Get Breached (fortune.com) 176

An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:There are two kinds of companies, according to a saying that former Equifax CEO Rick Smith shared in a speech at the University of Georgia on August 17. "There's those companies that have been breached and know it, and there are those companies that have been breached and don't know it," he said. Though it was still 21 days before his company would reveal that it had been massively hacked, Equifax, at that time, had been breached and knew it...

Smith's fastest growing area of security concern was state-sponsored hacking and espionage, he said. "It's countries you'd expect -- you know it's China, Russia, Iran, and Iraq -- and they're being very aggressive trying to get access to the know-how about how companies have built their capabilities, and transport that know-how back to their countries," said Smith. "It's my number one worry." he added.

"In a speech at the University of Georgia last month, he described a stagnating credit reporting agency with a 'culture of tenure' and 'average talent", reports Bloomberg, adding that the Equifax CEO also bragged that the company's data-crunching business nonetheless earned a gross profit margin of 90%.
Bitcoin

South Korea Bans Initial Coin Offerings (reuters.com) 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: South Korea's financial regulator on Friday said it will ban raising money through all forms of virtual currencies, a move that follows similar restrictions in China on initial coin offerings. The Financial Services Commission said all kinds of initial coin offerings (ICO) will be banned as trading of virtual currencies needs to be tightly controlled and monitored. The decision to ban ICOs as a fundraising tool was made as the government sees such issues as increasing the risk of financial scams.

"Raising funds through ICOs seem to be on the rise globally, and our assessment is that ICOs are increasing in South Korea as well," the regulator said in a statement after a meeting with the finance ministry, the Bank of Korea and the National Tax Service. "Stern penalties" will be issued on financial institutions and any parties involved in issuing of ICOs, the statement added, without elaborating further on the details of those penalties.

Power

California Considers Banning Internal Combustion Engines To Meet Emissions Goals (sacbee.com) 503

New submitter Rick Schumann writes about California considering a ban on internal combustion engines: The ban on internal-combustion engine automobiles would be at least 10 years away, and it's unclear at this early stage if it would ban only sales and use of new cars, or ban existing cars as well. There's also no mention of two (or three) wheeled vehicles at this stage. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is nevertheless considering this seriously, in order to meet its ambitious emissions reduction goals. According to state data, tailpipes generate more than one-third of all greenhouse gases, and so far only a small fraction of California's motorists drive electric vehicles. The announcement was made in an interview with Bloomberg news. "I've gotten messages from the governor asking, 'Why haven't we done something already?' The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California," Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of the CARB, told Bloomberg.
Censorship

China Blocks WhatsApp (theverge.com) 104

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: China has blocked WhatsApp, security experts confirmed today to The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled). Over the past few months, WhatsApp has experienced brief disruptions to service, with users unable to send video chats or photos. Now, even text messages are completely blocked, according to Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, a Paris-based research firm that also monitors digital censorship in China. Kobeissi found that China may have recently upgraded its firewall to detect and block the NoiseSocket protocol that WhatsApp uses to send texts, in addition to already blocking the HTTPS/TLS that WhatsApp uses to send photos and videos. He said, "I think it took time for the Chinese firewall to adapt to this new protocol so that it could also target text messages." His company noticed the app disruptions beginning last Wednesday.
Power

Court Rules That Imported Solar Panels Are Bad For US Manufacturing (theverge.com) 364

The International Trade Commission has ruled that American companies are being hurt by cheap solar panels from overseas, providing an opportunity for President Donald Trump to tax imports from countries like China. The Verge reports: Today's unanimous decision ruled that the companies SolarWorld Americans and Suniva were struggling financially not because of their own poor management, but because they couldn't compete with cheap panels from countries like China, Mexico, and South Korea. Suniva is now suggesting import duties of 40 cents a watt for solar cells, and a floor price of 78 cents a watt for panels. (Right now, the average floor price, worldwide, for panels is about 32 cents.) The Solar Energy Industries Association warned that implementing these suggestions could end up doubling the price of solar, thus destroying demand and causing Americans to lose their jobs.
China

John McAfee Said Top Executives From the Major Bitcoin Exchanges Weren't Allowed To Leave China (wsj.com) 96

An anonymous reader shares a report: China's widening crackdown on bitcoin trading resulted in a travel ban of sorts for two executives from the country's largest commercial bitcoin exchanges, which regulators are closing down. From a report: On Thursday, top executives of two Chinese digital currency exchanges who were scheduled to speak at an industry conference in Hong Kong didn't show up and their sessions were canceled. The event's organizer, a bitcoin-trading firm called Bitkan, didn't provide a reason. The two executives were Lin Li, chief executive of Huobi, and Justin Pan, who the event organizer listed as being the chief operating officer of OKCoin. The two-day conference was originally supposed to be held in Beijing but its organizers last week decided to shift the venue to Hong Kong after Chinese regulators earlier this month ordered digital-currency exchanges to wind down their operations. Software pioneer and former fugitive John McAfee -- a high-profile but controversial character in the bitcoin industry -- told conference attendees on Wednesday that top executives from the major bitcoin exchanges are currently not allowed to leave China.
China

China Arms Upgraded Tianhe-2A Hybrid Supercomputer (nextplatform.com) 23

New submitter kipperstem77 shares an excerpt from a report via The Next Platform: The National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) has, according to James Lin, vice director for the Center of High Performance Computing (HPC) at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, who divulged the plans last year, is building one of the three pre-exascale machines [that China is currently investing in], in this case a kicker to the Tianhe-1A CPU-GPU hybrid that was deployed in 2010 and that put China on the HPC map. This exascale system will be installed at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, not the one in Guangzhou, according to Lin. This machine is expected to use ARM processors, and we think it will very likely use Matrix2000 DSP accelerators, too, but this has not been confirmed. The second pre-exascale machine will be an upgrade to the TaihuLight system using a future Shenwei processor, but it will be installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Jinan. And the third pre-exascale machine being funded by China is being architected in conjunction with AMD, with licensed server processor technology, and which everyone now thinks is going to be based on Epyc processors and possibly with Radeon Instinct GPU coprocessors. The Next Platform has a slide embedded in its report "showing the comparison between Tianhe-2, which was the fastest supercomputer in the world for two years, and Tianhe-2A, which will be vying for the top spot when the next list comes out." Every part of this system shows improvements.
Businesses

CEO Catches Stranger After Hours, Prompting Espionage Charges (wsj.com) 242

An anonymous reader shares a report: Samuel Straface thought he was the last one out the door one recent evening at the medical-technology startup he leads in suburban Boston. But as he passed a glass-walled conference room on the second floor, Dr. Straface says he saw a man he didn't recognize, sitting by himself in front of two open laptops and a tablet device. He continued walking a few steps toward the exit, but then, feeling uneasy, he turned back (Editor's note: the submitted link could be paywalled; alternative source). The man was later identified as Dong Liu, a dual citizen of China and Canada. And his after-hours computing at Medrobotics is at the center of an economic-espionage case brought by U.S. prosecutors. Mr. Liu is in federal custody, charged with attempting to steal trade secrets and trying to gain unauthorized access to the company's computer system, prosecutors said. If convicted of both charges, he could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. "Mr. Liu adamantly asserts his innocence and we fully expect he'll be exonerated after a careful review of the evidence," said Robert Goldstein, Mr. Liu's defense attorney. The U.S. attorney's office for the District of Massachusetts declined to comment on the case beyond details in court records. Before his arrest, police said Mr. Liu told them he was there to discuss doing business with the company -- but Dr. Straface says no one had scheduled a meeting with Mr. Liu.
Transportation

Is the World Ready For Flying Cars? (engadget.com) 251

An anonymous reader shares a report from TechCrunch, adding: "Is the world ready for flying cars? Sebastian Thrun, the supposed godfather of autonomous driving, and several other tech investors seem to think so." From the report: At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017, Thrun talked a lot about flying cars and how that was the future of transportation. So did GGV's Jenny Lee, a prolific investor in China. And so did Steve Jurvetson, one of the original investors in SpaceX. The technical backbone for flying cars seems to be there already -- with drones becoming ever-present and advancements in AI and self-driving cars -- but the time is coming soon that flying cars will be the primary mode of transportation. "I can't envision a future of highways [and being] stuck in cars," Thrun said. "I envision a [future] where you hop in a thing, go in the air, and fly in a straight line. I envision a future where Amazon delivers my food in the air in five minutes. The air is so free of stuff and is so unused compared to the ground, it has to happen in my opinion."

Cars today are forced to move on a two-dimensional plane (ramps, clover intersections and tunnels set aside), and while self-driving cars would make it easier for cars to talk to each other and move more efficiently, adding a third dimension to travel would make a lot of sense coming next. Thrun pointed to airplane transit, which is already a "fundamentally great mass transit system." Jurvetson said he was actually about to ride in a flying car before he "watched it flip over" before arriving to talk about some of the next steps in technology onstage. So, there's work to be done there, but it does certainly seem that all eyes are on flying cars. And that'll be enabled by autonomous driving, which will probably allow flying cars to figure out the most efficient paths from one point to the next without crashing into each other.
Lee said that China is closely analyzing changes in transportation, which might end up leading to flying cars. "I do want to highlight that there's going to be huge disruption within the transportation ecosystem in China," Lee said. "Cars going from diesel to electric. China has about 200 million install base of car ownership. In 2016, only 1 million cars are electric. The Chinese government hopes to install 5 million parking lots that are electric... Even the Chinese OEMs are buying into flying taxis."

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