Caracas, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) — The software company Adobe says it is cutting off its accounts in Venezuela, the latest repercussions of U.S. financial sanctions targeting President Nicolás Maduro.
The California-based firm on Monday cited sweeping measures by the administration of President Donald Trump announced Aug. 5 banning companies and individuals from doing business with Maduro's socialist government.
Adobe is best known for its graphics and multimedia software including Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop and Adobe Flash that enable online websites.
Its cutoff follows a move by Major League Baseball to ban its players from the Venezuelan Winter League because of the sanctions.
U.S. officials back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's bid to unseat the socialist government, saying Maduro's election last year was a fraud.
Venezuelan officials didn't immediately comment on the move by Adobe
Washington, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) - The United States is blacklisting a group of Chinese tech companies that develop facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology that the U.S. says is being used to repress China's Muslim minority groups.
A move Monday by the U.S. Commerce Department puts the companies on a so-called Entity List for acting contrary to American foreign policy interests.
The blacklist effectively bars U.S. firms from selling technology to the Chinese companies without government approval.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a written statement Monday that the U.S. government "will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China."
The blacklisted companies include Hikvision and Dahua, both of which are global providers of video surveillance technology.
Hikvision said in a statement Monday that it respects human rights and strongly opposes the Trump administration's decision. The company said it has spent a year trying to "clarify misunderstandings about the company and address their concerns," and that this will hurt its U.S. business partners.
Prominent Chinese AI firms such as Sense Time, Megvii and iFlytek are also on the list. Sense Time and Megvii are known for the development of computer vision technology that underpins facial recognition products, while iFlytek is known for its voice recognition and translation services.
The companies are among 28 organizations added to the blacklist Monday. Along with the tech companies, the Commerce Department's filing targets local government agencies in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.
The filing said the listed groups have been implicated in "China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance" against Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim minority groups.
The Chinese embassy and several of the targeted companies didn't immediately return requests for comment Monday.
The Trump administration earlier this year used the same blacklisting process to punish Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant targeted by the U.S. over national security concerns. Added to the list in June were five Chinese groups working in supercomputing.
Ross said Monday's action will ensure U.S. technologies "are not used to repress defenseless minority populations."
China is estimated to have detained up to 1 million Muslims in prison-like detention centers in the region. The detentions come on top of harsh travel restrictions and a massive surveillance network equipped with facial recognition technology. China has denied committing abuses in the centers and has described them as schools aimed at providing employable skills and combating extremism.
Cape Canaveral, OCT 8. (AP/UNB) — The solar system has a new winner in the moon department.
Twenty new moons have been found around Saturn, giving the ringed planet a total of 82, scientists said Monday. That beats Jupiter and its 79 moons.
"It was fun to find that Saturn is the true moon king," said astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
If it's any consolation to the Jupiter crowd, our solar system's biggest planet — Jupiter — still has the biggest moon. Jupiter's Ganymede is almost half the size of Earth. By contrast, Saturn's 20 new moons are minuscule, each barely 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter.
Sheppard and his team used a telescope in Hawaii to spot Saturn's 20 new moons over the summer. About 100 even tinier moons may be orbiting Saturn, still waiting to be found, he said.
Astronomers have pretty much completed the inventory of moons as small as 3 miles (5 kilometers) around Saturn and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) around Jupiter, according to Sheppard. Future larger telescopes will be needed to see anything smaller.
It's harder spotting mini moons around Saturn than Jupiter, Sheppard said, given how much farther Saturn is.
"So seeing that Saturn has more moons even though it is harder to find them, shows just how many moons Saturn has collected over time," he wrote in an email. These baby moons may have come from larger parent moons that broke apart right after Saturn formed.
Seventeen of Saturn's new moons orbit the planet in the opposite, or retrograde, direction. The other three circle in the same direction that Saturn rotates. They're so far from Saturn that it takes two to three years to complete a single orbit.
"These moons are the remnants of the objects that helped form the planets, so by studying them, we are learning about what the planets formed from," Sheppard wrote.
Just last year, Sheppard found 12 new moons around Jupiter. The Carnegie Institution had a moon-naming contest for them; another is planned now for Saturn's new moons .
The jury is still out on whether any planets beyond our solar system have even more moons. For now, Saturn has the most known moons.
Monday's announcement came from the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.
London, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — Prince Harry is suing The Sun and the Daily Mirror, two of Britain's most popular tabloid newspapers, over alleged phone hacking.
Buckingham Palace confirmed Saturday that claims regarding "illegal interception of voicemail messages" were filed on Harry's behalf. The palace declined to say more or provide details "given the particulars of the claims are not yet public."
News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun and the now defunct News of the World, acknowledged the prince's High Court action while Reach, which owns the Mirror, said it was "aware that proceedings have been issued" but hasn't yet received notice of them.
The cases escalate Harry's fight with the British tabloids. It comes days after his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, sued the Mail on Sunday for alleged copyright infringement, misuse of private information and violating the U.K.'s data protection law after the paper published a letter she wrote to her father.
Harry then lambasted British tabloids after Meghan filed her lawsuit on Tuesday, saying in a statement that his wife's lawsuit, which was months in the making, was a response to a "ruthless campaign" to smear her by creating "lie after lie at her expense" during her maternity leave.
British tabloid newspapers have paid millions of dollars to settle claims that their employees had hacked the phone voicemails of celebrities, politicians and others in the public eye. The News of the World was shut down in 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal.
New York, Oct 5 (AP/UNB) — PayPal has pulled out of Facebook's digital currency project, known as Libra, a blow to the social media company that has faced stronger-than-expected scrutiny over its proposed creation of an alternative payments system.
The digital payments company said Friday it is withdrawing from the Libra Association so it can focus on its existing businesses.
"Facebook has been a longstanding and valued strategic partner to PayPal, and we will continue to partner with and support Facebook in various capacities," PayPal said.
Facebook has presented Libra as a currency that could be used for digital payments, particularly outside the U.S. It would be backed by real currency, unlike other digital currencies like Bitcoin or Etherium.
The Libra Association, based in Switzerland, was supposed to give the currency project a comfortable arm's length distance from Facebook, which wouldn't own Libra.
Despite Facebook's efforts, financial regulators as well as members of Congress have questioned the company's motives for creating a new digital currency, particularly in light of criticisms that Facebook's business model is too invasive of its users' privacy.
Rep. Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, has demanded Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of her committee before Libra is rolled out. Along with privacy concerns, Waters' has cited the potential for Libra to be used in money laundering and other financial crimes.
Republicans and Democrats and even President Donald Trump have called for in various degrees for Facebook to be subject to U.S. banking laws — an arduous, complicated prospect — if the social media company does move forward with the Libra project. In response, Facebook has reportedly hired several prominent Washington lobbyists to convince politicians to give their approval to Libra.
PayPal Holdings Inc., which is based in San Jose, California, is the first company to publicly end its partnership with Libra, but other companies have been reportedly having second thoughts. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Mastercard and Visa, the world's largest payment providers, were considering ending their Libra relationships.
The Libra Association said it plans to continue to move forward with the project without PayPal.
"Building (Libra) is a journey, not a destination ... each organization that started this journey will have to make its own assessment of risks and rewards of being committed to seeing through the change that Libra promises," said Dante Disparte, head of policy and communications for the Libra Association.