Thailand could start punishing protesters under harsh lese majeste laws after PM vows to use ‘all’ legal tools at his disposal

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha threatened on Thursday to use all laws possible against protesters, as demonstrations escalate for his removal and for reforms to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Activists voiced concern that this could mean the resumption of prosecutions under some of the world’s harshest royal insult laws.

“Prayuth has declared a battle against the people,” said rights lawyer and protest leader Arnon Nampa. “For civil servants who have not chosen sides, you need to decide whether to live in the past or to build a future with us.”

The protests since July have become the greatest challenge to Thailand’s establishment in years and have broken a longstanding taboo by criticising the monarchy, which can carry a jail term of up to 15 years.

Gen Prayuth’s announcement came a day after thousands of protesters threw paint at the headquarters of the police in what they said was a response to the use of water cannon and teargas that hurt dozens on Tuesday, the most violent day of protests since July. Some protesters also sprayed anti-monarchy graffiti.

“The situation is not improving,” Gen Prayuth said in a statement. “There is a risk of escalation to more violence. If not addressed, it could damage the country and the beloved monarchy.

“The government will intensify its actions and use all laws, all articles, to take action against protesters who broke the law.”

He did not specify whether this included Article 112 of the criminal code, which forbids insulting the monarchy. Gen Prayuth said earlier in the year that it was not being used for the moment at the request of the king.

Police have been collecting evidence since July for possible prosecutions for violating the article but had not taken further steps, one police source said.

Outraged by the anti-monarchy graffiti at Wednesday’s demonstration, some royalists called for the application of Article 112 in posts on social media.

Dozens of protesters, including many of the most prominent leaders, have been arrested on a variety of charges in recent months, though not for criticising the monarchy.

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The best kitchen tools and gadgets, from Food52’s Amanda Hesser

For more than 10 years, Food52 has brought James Beard award-winning recipes to the web, sold New York Times best-selling cookbooks, and grown an online community of foodies to more than 16 million people. Needless to say, this company knows its way around a kitchen—even better than you do after six months of cooking at home.

That’s why we reached out to Amanda Hesser, cofounder and CEO of the innovative company, for inspiration and guidance as a new stay-at-home season (a holiday one, at that) awaits us. “The pandemic underlined how vital home cooking is as a source of both sustenance and comfort,” she says. “And it has forced us to adapt to a new landscape of grocery shopping and cooking all the time. People have had to try new things and figure out how to make the most of what they have on hand. Some home cooks have embraced this with gusto, which is why we’re still seeing a wave of trends like bread baking.”

Sourdough starters were just the beginning. Hesser believes that this moment marks a true cultural shift: Americans are genuinely interested in learning how to feed ourselves better for the long haul. So how to make the kitchen updates you need to embrace a fall and winter of cozy, homemade meals? Hesser recommends first getting your hands on all the zucchini, peppers, and eggplant you can before the season ends so you can make ratatouille. (It freezes well!) Then, consider investing in these six kitchen tools that can make a big difference.

[Photo: courtesy Food52]

Staub x Food52 Enameled Cast-Iron Braising Pan
“This is a year-round lifesaver, and it comes in handy especially in the fall because you can use it for everything from roasting chicken to making a vegetable gratin to braising short ribs,” Hesser says. This Swiss Army Knife of a pot is heritage quality. That means a lifetime of delicious, cozy one-pot meals.


[Photo: courtesy Food52]

Five Two Wooden Spoons
Spoons are underrated: You might not understand the value of a great wooden spoon until you’ve scratched the bottom of your favorite saucepan with a metal utensil. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.) “Great-quality wooden spoons are worth the splurge,” Hesser says. “Having a go-to cooking utensil that feels good in your hand is—to me—essential to the pleasure of cooking.” These five spoons from Food52’s in-house brand have extra thoughtful design details: Each has a flattened scraping edge so you can scoop into every nook of a jar or pot, and they are made from teak—a water-resistant wood that is used on boats.

[Photo: courtesy Food52]

Microplane Master Series Graters
I dare you to watch this video of Microplane’s graters at work and not want to buy one. Seeing these things in action is simply satisfying. Microplane makes the best graters, hands down. “And now that we’re entering the season of pastas and baked dishes—naturally topped with lots of grated cheese—you’ve got a perfect excuse to upgrade your graters,” Hesser says.

[Photo: courtesy Food52]

Dreamfarm Ortwo Pepper Grinder
“I’m obsessed with this grinder because you can adjust the grind and it grinds incredibly quickly and efficiently,” Hesser says. “Also, it’s cleverly designed with an easy-to-refill jar that twists on and off.” That means you can get back-up jars and fill them with other spices, so it’s not just a pepper grinder as the name suggests, but a universal spice grinder.

[Photo: courtesy Food52]

Five Two Compostable Sponge Cloths
“These sponges wipe up counters better than any I’ve ever used, and I love that they’re compostable,” Hesser says. “Anything you can do to cut down on waste in the kitchen is a win in my book.” This pack comes with 10 clothes, which are a clever cross between a paper towel and a sponge—giving them that extra oomph for cleanup.

[Photo: courtesy Food52]

Five Two Bamboo Cutting Board
This was the first item in Five Two’s own product line, and it’s made its way into the Recommender several times, thanks to its incredible design. It’s not often you find a true upgrade to the classic wooden cutting board. “It’s multipurpose—cutting board on one side, carving board on the other,” Hesser explains. “There’s a slot to hold your phone so you can read your recipe as you chop. And there’s a great, deep juice groove and pour spout on the carving board side, so you won’t have spills on your countertop!”

Looking for more recommendations? Check out our other handpicked suggestions.

Fast Company may receive revenue for some links to products on our site.

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Israeli Researchers Say Ancient Hominins Used Fire to Make Stone Tools

Israeli Researchers Say Ancient Hominins Used Fire to Make Stone Tools

The ancient tools were discovered in Israel’s Qesem Cave.

Flint Sample From The Weizmann Institute

Experts from the Weizmann Institute of Science have revealed new evidence about our ancestors. They used fire to make tools. The findings about early hominins comes from discoveries of ancient tools found in Israel in Qesem Cave.

The Hominins were basically us; ancient humans and a few other human cousins who are now extinct. So if you reject evolution and only believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible then you may not like what comes next.

The real breakthrough here came from the study of the ancient artifacts. Using scientific methods of some sort which we do not pretend to understand the researchers were able to prove that these tools were made using fire and were not just carved out of rock. This is significant because it means that hundreds of thousands of years ago early humans already knew how to use fire to make tools.

Professor Avi Gopher and colleagues from Tel-Aviv University conducted the new research. The findings in the cave are dated to between 420,000 and 200,000 years ago. The ancient hominins who lived in Qesem Cave left behind them tens of thousands of stone tools. These tools are mainly made of flint, a material which is readily available all over the country, and they were produced in a process called knapping – that is, using another rock or tool to chip off pieces, honing a sharp edge.

Somewhere between 300,000-400,000 years ago, the main prey these hominins hunted had changed – from elephants, to fallow deer – necessitating a switch in the toolkit used, towards finer artifacts. The question asked by the Weizmann research group was whether the ancient inhabitants of the area might have used fire to temper the flint before knapping it. Much later groups – less than 100,000 years ago, had left evidence of firing their flint, which makes the stone easier to shape. However, in sites of this age, there is generally almost no remaining organic matter that can currently give researchers conclusive evidence of fire use.

The scientists collected flint from areas near Qesem Cave as well as other places around Israel. After heating the flint pieces to different temperatures and cooling them again. In this way they were able to determine what degree of heat was needed to forge tools out of flint.

Dr. Filipe Natalio of the Institute’s Scientific Archaeology Unit said, “At first the data seemed to be all over the place, and we did not know if we could say anything about these tools. But then Azuri created his model, and things just fell into place.”

“We can’t know how they taught others the skill of toolmaking, what experience led them to heat the raw flint to different temperatures, or how they managed to control the process, but the fact that the longer blades are consistently heated in a different way than the other pieces does point to an intent,” says Natalio.

“And that,” adds Dr. Iddo Pinkas, expert in a technique known as Raman spectroscopy in the Institute’s Chemical Research Support Department, “is technology, as surely as our cell phones and computers are technology. It enabled our ancestors to survive and thrive.”

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Looking For New Tools Of The Trade | Asian Scientist Magazine

AsianScientist (Sep. 3, 2020) – As the first Southeast Asian country with a container port, Singapore has cemented its place as a strategic trade hub over the decades. In a biennial ranking of the world’s leading maritime capitals, the Republic has clinched the top spot four times. But with the pandemic significantly disrupting the world’s supply chains, innovative ideas are needed to ensure the resilience of Singapore’s global trade ecosystem.

By tapping upon emerging fields like the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics, companies in sectors from aviation, maritime, land mobility, logistics and even trade can recalibrate their operations for a post-COVID world. Hence, Enterprise Singapore and IPI has jointly launched the Trade & Connectivity Challenge (TCC 2020) to drive partnerships and digital innovation across sectors involved in global trade and logistics. With double the number of challenge sponsors and close to 30 challenge statements, this year’s TCC promises more opportunities for collaboration than before.
Two Tracks to Success

Building upon last year’s competition, TCC 2020 has now expanded to two challenge tracks: Enterprise and Industry. Both tracks will focus on solutions that leverage IoT, big data analytics and post-COVID sustainability.

The Enterprise track, which focuses on corporate-level issues, gives local and international startups the unique opportunity to co-develop innovative solutions with challenge partners. Through paid trials, the shortlisted startups will be able to deploy and assess the effectiveness of their solutions in real business settings. The winner of the Enterprise track will not only receive a S$30,000 grant, but also a fast track to SLINGSHOT 2020 – Asia’s premier deep tech startup competition.

Meanwhile, reflecting the nationwide push to encourage innovation and build resilience, the Industry track was launched this year to explore solutions that can be scaled up for industry-wide applications. As part of the National Innovation Challenges, each challenge statement under this track will receive up to S$2 million in co-funding grant support from prototyping all the way to adoption.
Taking Connectivity to the Next Level

In a world where Amazon’s Alexa is literally a household name, it’s clear that IoT has hugely impacted our daily lives. IoT refers to a sprawling network of physical devices connected to the Internet and to each other. This allows information from the devices to be collected and analysed in real-time, offering insights into performance and creating opportunities for optimisation.

More global trade companies are now seeking to integrate IoT into their operations as the industry shifts its focus towards greater efficiency. By utilising IoT solutions, goods across the supply chain would be tracked more accurately and logistics services could be deployed more efficiently.

Consider the challenges faced by Singapore Post (SingPost) in their day-to-day deliveries. SingPost processes up to 3 million mail items daily, with most of these items being ordinary mail that cannot be tracked by the consumer. To better serve the public, SingPost is using TCC 2020’s Enterprise track to search for a cost-effective solution that allows the sender to track his mail item until it reaches the letterbox. The solution could take the form of a device to be retrofitted onto existing letterboxes, or a smart wearable for the postal carrier. According to a SingPost spokesperson, if this solution is realised, Singapore would be the first in the world to offer tracked ordinary mail services to the masses.

IoT can also be used to allocate resources more effectively within organisations. Existing workforce management solutions, for instance, are unable to factor in the realities of the post-COVID workplace like social distancing and workforce segregation. Accordingly, in the TCC 2020’s Industry track, Singapore’s largest homegrown supply chain solutions provider YCH Group is searching for an IoT solution that can track manpower and equipment, with the ability to quickly identify areas for adjustment if needed. Ideally, the solution should improve the productivity and working experience for YCH Group’s employees.
Big Data, Big Solutions

With its myriad of moving parts scattered across the world, the complexity of global trade makes it the perfect use case for big data. By aggregating large data sets to reveal patterns and trends, inefficiencies in the supply chain can be pinpointed—and even predicted beforehand. This allows companies in the global trade industry to proactively come up with ways to overcome these persistent obstacles.

PT Monotaro Indonesia (Monotaro) is an e-commerce company and a Joint Venture company of Monotaro Co.Ltd and Sumitomo Corporation Group. One bottleneck in their operations is item categorisation, which is currently a manual, time-consuming process. Unsurprisingly, the company has experienced numerous instances of incorrect categorisation due to human error. To reduce the frequency of labelling errors, Monotaro is seeking, through the TCC 2020’s Enterprise track, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered system that can automatically categorise products received from suppliers. The system should be able to recognise visual and text data from suppliers, including the name, description and image.

At the shipping yards, surveyors are facing a different bottleneck of their own. Every day, a team of surveyors visually inspects 100 to 200 containers. Inspecting a perfect container takes 5 to 10 minutes, but inspections can take up to 40 minutes if the container is defective to a serious extent. With around one-third of the containers expected to have defects, these manual inspections can be a lengthy and laborious process. Moreover, the surveyors are subjecting themselves to higher workplace safety risks as they have to work at heights. Therefore, in the TCC 2020’s Industry track, the Container Depot & Logistics Association of Singapore (CDAS) is searching for a solution that can detect, assess and classify container defects remotely to shorten the inspection process and reduce the risks faced by surveyors.

With the unparalleled opportunity to co-develop, deploy and adopt innovative digital solutions for global trade, there are no trade-offs to joining TCC 2020! Proposal submissions for the Enterprise and Industry track close on 15 September and 1 October 2020 respectively. If you have any queries about TCC 2020, please email [email protected] for general enquiries and [email protected] for technical assistance.

Asian Scientist Magazine is a media partner of IPI Singapore.


Copyright: IPI Singapore. Read the original article here.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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The pandemic has changed how criminals hide their cash—and AI tools are trying to sniff it out

The pandemic has forced criminal gangs to come up with new ways to move money around. In turn, this has upped the stakes for anti-money laundering (AML) teams tasked with detecting suspicious financial transactions and following them back to their source.

Key to their strategies are new AI tools. While some larger, older financial institutions have been slower to adapt their rule-based legacy systems, smaller, newer firms are using machine learning to look out for anomalous activity, whatever it might be.

It is hard to assess the exact scale of the problem. But according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, between 2% and 5% of global GDP—between $800 billion and $2 trillion at current figures—is laundered every year. Most goes undetected. Estimates suggest that only around 1% of profits earned by criminals is seized.

And that was before covid-19 hit. Fraud is up, with fears around covid-19 creating a lucrative market for counterfeit protective gear or medication. More people spending time online also creates a bigger pool for phishing attacks and other scams. And, of course, drugs are still being bought and sold.

Lockdown made it harder to hide the proceeds—at least to begin with. The problem for criminals is that many of the best businesses for laundering money were also those hit hardest by the pandemic. Small shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs are favored because they are cash-heavy, which makes it easier to mix up ill-gotten gains with legal income.

With bank branches closed, it has been harder to make large cash deposits. Wire transfer services like Western Union—which usually allow anyone to walk in off the street and send money overseas—shut their premises, too.

But criminals are nothing if not opportunistic. As the normal channels for money laundering closed, new ones opened up. Vast sums of money have started flowing into small businesses again thanks to government bailouts. This creates a flurry of financial activity that provides cover for money laundering.

Breaking the rules

The upshot is that there are more demands being placed on AML tech. Older systems rely on hand-crafted rules, such as that transactions over a certain amount should raise an alert. But these rules lead to many false flags and real criminal transactions get lost in the noise. More recently, machine-learning based approaches try to identify patterns of normal activity and raise flags only when outliers are detected. These are then assessed by humans, who reject or approve the alert.

This feedback can be used to tweak the AI model so that it adjusts itself over time. Some firms, including Featurespace, a firm based in the US and UK that uses machine learning to detect suspicious financial activity, and Napier, another firm that builds machine learning tools for AML, are developing hybrid approaches in which correct alerts generated by an AI can be turned into new rules that shape the overall model.  

The rapid shifts in behavior in recent months have made the advantages of more adaptable systems clear. Financial regulators around the world have released new guidance on what sort of activity AML teams should look out for but for many it was too late, says Araliya Sammé, head of financial crime at Featurespace. “When something like covid happens, where everybody’s payment patterns change suddenly, you don’t have time to put new rules in place.”

You need tech that can catch it as it is happening, she says: “Otherwise by the time you’ve detected something and alerted the people who need to know, the money is gone.” 

For Dave Burns, chief revenue officer for Napier, covid-19 caused long-simmering problems to boil over. “This pandemic was the tipping point in many ways,” he says. “It’s a bit of a wake-up call that we really need to think differently.” And, he adds, “some of the larger players in the industry have been caught flat-footed.”

But that doesn’t simply mean adopting the latest tech. “You can’t just do AI for AI’s sake because that will spew out garbage,” says Burns. What’s needed, he says, is a bespoke approach for each bank or payment provider.

AML technology still has a long way to go. The pandemic has revealed cracks in existing systems that have people worried, says Burns. And that means that things could change faster than they were going to. “We’re seeing a greater degree of urgency,” he says. “What is traditionally very long, bureaucratic decision-making is being accelerated dramatically.”

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AI delivers tools to save forests and protect species – #Huawei


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G20 launches initiative for health tools needed to combat the coronavirus

RIYADH (Reuters) – The group of 20 rich and emerging economies on Sunday launched an international initiative to accelerate access to health tools needed to fight the new coronavirus.

The finance minister of Saudi Arabia, the current G20 chair, said the group is still working to bridge an estimated $8 billion funding gap to combat the pandemic.

“The G20 will continue reinforcing global cooperation on all fronts, and most importantly, on closing the immediate health financing gap,” the minister, Mohammed al-Jadaan, said in a statement launching the “Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator” initiative.

He added that “the international community is still facing extraordinary uncertainty about the depth and duration of this health crisis”, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia earlier this month pledged $500 million to support global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In the statement, it repeated its call on all countries, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists and the private sector to help close the financing gap.

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad in Riyadh and Nayera Abdallah in Cairo; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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