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In Malawi, Residents Use Debit Cards, Mobile Money, To Pay For Water



Mayamiko Nkoloma, a Malawian lecturer in Telecommunications at the University of Malawi has changed the lives of city dwellers in Lilongwe.

The 2018 ITU telecom world global SME award winner for the greatest social impact developed an electronic system, iMoSyS, that allows residents to pay for water at kiosks electronically.

His product, the e-Madzi (e-water) requires residents to use their credit cards or MoMo to pay for water.

The project has been implemented in communal water points in peri-urban areas. The initiative can, however, limit the have-nots’ access to water. Social activists have criticized the innovation saying that it robs residents of the right to water.

Apart from kiosks, the innovation is now being used in homes for personal water consumption.

Those who support the innovation say it has helped them stop paying for water stolen or lost before reaching their homes.

Meanwhile, residents say the innovation helps them minimize spread of Coronavirus because they don’t have to exchange cash while paying for the water.

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Data For 500 Million LinkedIn Users Sold On Hacker Site



Information scraped from around 500 million LinkedIn user profiles is part of a database posted for sale on a website popular with hackers, the company confirmed Thursday.

The sale of the data was first reported on Tuesday by cybersecurity news and research site CyberNews, which said that an archive including user IDs, names, email addresses, phone numbers, genders, professional titles and links to other social media profiles was being auctioned off on the forum for a four-figure sum.

According to LinkedIn, the database for sale “is actually an aggregation of data from a number of websites and companies.”

The data from LinkedIn users includes only information that people listed publicly in their profiles, the professional social media site, which is owned by Microsoft (MSFT), said in a Thursday statement.

“This is not a LinkedIn data breach, and no private member account data from LinkedIn was included in what we’ve been able to review,” the company said.

The news comes just days after a separate incident in which data scraped from more than 500 million Facebook users in 2019 — including phone numbers, birthdays, emails and other information — was posted publicly on a website used by hackers.

While these kinds of data are less sensitive than, say, credit card details or social security numbers, information like phone numbers can still be exploited by bad actors, including for robocall scams.

LinkedIn has more than 675 million members, according to its website, meaning that around three quarters of its users’ information may be included in the database.

Social media companies have tools in place aimed at preventing scrapers — LinkedIn on its terms page details “technical measures and defenses” against such abuse — but they don’t always work.

The company said that “any misuse of our members’ data, such as scraping” violates its terms of service, which prohibit third-party software, bots, browser extensions or plug-ins that scrape data from the site.

“When anyone tries to take member data and use it for purposes LinkedIn and our members haven’t agreed to, we work to stop them and hold them accountable,” LinkedIn said in its statement.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it will alert users whose data was scraped and is included in the database for sale.

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Israel Army Reshapes Attack Battalions to Fit Modern Battlefield



The changing battlefield requires changes to the battle doctrine and in the way units operate, a notion that is at the heart of the plan to reorganize and strengthen the IDF’s attack battalions.

As part of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s multi-year plan known as the “Tnufa” plan, the army’s Ground Forces Command was tasked to thoroughly examine changes to the modern battlefield, and establish a mechanism in which new techniques and technologies could be quickly assimilated in the different units.

The multi-domain “Ghost” unit was created for this job. Composed of experienced soldiers and officers of elite units from the Armored Corps, Artillery Corps, Air Defense Division and Air Force pilots, this unit was busy in the past year conducting experiments and developing new techniques that will multiply the strength of the maneuvering units.

This week marked a significant milestone in the process. For the first time, all the battalion commanders of the IDF’s Ground Forces gathered for a seminar at the Tze’elim Ground Forces training base to study and “multiply” a skill that the multi-domain unit developed, and essentially assimilate it in field units.

The skill is the “expose and destroy” company. A major element in the new battlefield is the way the enemy appears in first contact. If battles in the past were conducted in the open and the enemy was using the same technologies – like tanks and armored personnel carriers – the IDF’s current enemy, in both Lebanon and Gaza, employs guerrilla tactics – dubbed in military jargon as “the disappearing enemy.”

This enemy appears for seconds in a window, or pops out of tunnels, and uses civilian infrastructure to briefly come out, attack, and then hide again.

For this purpose, the IDF senior command decided that each battalion needs a force – as big as an entire company – that will have the ability to expose the enemy as quickly as possible and destroy it.

“The purpose of the exposure-attack company is to increase the lethality of the maneuvering force – whether it is a unit or a combined force – by exposing the enemy with advanced technologies, and then immediately categorizing it and destroying it,” Brig.-Gen. Dan Goldfus, head of the Infantry and Paratroopers Corps who led the seminar, told local press this week.

“This ability will allow the units to step up their ability to carry out more operations, and destroy more enemy forces.”

Battalion commanders exercise new combat skills at the “expose and destroy” seminar in Tze’elim in April 2020.

One of the concerns in the modern battlefield is that an area, like a village for example, could be taken by the IDF, but enemy combatants could still exist in underground tunnels.

That fact raised concern among IDF high-ranking officials: despite holding territory, a mission could not be completed without sterilizing it from enemy troops.

“We believe that this ability, on the tactical level, would allow forces to complete their mission,” Goldfus said.

“We want the maneuvering forces to have the ability to win over the enemy by exposing it, then having the right tools to decide who it wants to eliminate it.”

Some of the abilities that are now given to commanders in the field are advanced command and control systems, which will allow them to understand and share valuable information in real-time, while also being in touch with units of different nature – such as fighter jets and artillery batteries – in order to “close fire circles” as quickly as possible and engage with enemy targets.

Goldfus noted that this seminar in Tze’elim is unique in its nature, and could be seen as a historic event.

“We want all the battalion commanders in the maneuvering forces to understand the changes that the battlefield is going through, and understand the changes that their units are undergoing,” he said.

“We showed them how we [the senior command] want them to implement the techniques and abilities that we developed.

“This seminar is something that happens once in a generation. It’s not just another seminar; it’s not just another event that battalion commanders and other professionals come to and talk about professional issues.

What we see here is a revolution – we see the implementation of a perception that led to changing the structure of units.

“The army is considered a conservative organization when it comes to making changes, and here we are changing the way the maneuvering forces are working. We will hear a lot about this change in the future.”


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Mercedes-Benz To Release 700km-range Electric Sedan in April



Mercedes-Benz is scheduled to unveil its new flagship model it expects to boast market-leading battery range, following through on its pledge to compete in the luxury electric-vehicle segment with top technology.

The April 15 debut of the EQS — the first Mercedes built on dedicated electric-car underpinnings — will mark a milestone for the German brand that has been criticized for taking too long to embrace EVs.

Next year, Mercedes will be making eight fully electric cars on three continents, Chief Operating Officer Markus Schaefer said.

“We boosted flexibility of all factories worldwide so that we can produce hybrids, fully electric cars and combustion vehicles everywhere, depending on customer demand and individual market developments,” Schaefer said. “It took a while for us to prepare all this, but now it’s time to deliver.”

The more than 700 km of range Mercedes expects the EQS to achieve in lab testing is another indication Germany’s automakers will have something to say about Tesla’s early domination of the EV space.

Volkswagen Group last week announced plans to become the new global sales leader no later than 2025, while BMW  forecast battery-car sales will account for roughly half of deliveries by the end of the decade.

Mercedes is in the midst of a fundamental overhaul that will include a painful restructuring of combustion-engine sites that the manufacturer depended on for a century.

The revamp has culminated in parent Daimler AG’s plan to spin off its truck operation this year, the most significant strategic move since the company sold off Chrysler.

“The pace of the industry’s transformation is keeping us busy of course, but what’s really key for us now is that we deliver the physical proof points of our strategy in our factories and with our products,” Schaefer said.

The company will flank the compact EQA and EQB with the larger EQS and EQE this year, and make SUV versions of the latter two models at its U.S. factory in Alabama.

The battery range Mercedes has touted for the EQS would exceed the 412 miles that Tesla estimates for the Long Range version of the Model S.

The company provides U.S. data on its order website, which can vary from the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure used in Europe and elsewhere.

Mercedes may not have a lead for long. Startup Lucid Motors has said it will sell a version of its Air sedan that offers 517 miles of range, and Tesla has estimated the Model S Plaid+ slated for late this year will get 520 miles.

In any case, the EQS represents progress. Mercedes built its initial electric vehicle, the EQC SUV, on a tweaked combustion-engine platform with compromised efficiency. It offers about 280 miles of range.

Schaefer said that going forward, Mercedes will be able to flexibly scale up output of any kind of vehicle. He expects “a steep increase” this year for plug-ins and pure EVs that accounted for 8 percent of deliveries in 2020.

Mercedes will be able to meet demand if consumers embrace EVs faster than expected, Schaefer said.

The company has forecast that half its deliveries will be plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars in 2030.


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