Pope Francis has sent Christmas greetings to the political leaders of South Sudan once again this year.
As with last year’s message, the Pope was joined by Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Reverend Martin Fair, in signing the Christmas message.
The three begin their greetings with a reminder of the humble earthly beginnings of the Son of God. “In this Christmas season, we remember that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world among the least—in a dusty stable with animals,” they write.
“Later, he called those who wish to be great in His kingdom to be the servant of all.” At their historic meeting in the Vatican in April 2019, Pope Francis offered South Sudan’s leaders a concrete example of humble service, when he knelt to kiss their feet.
Referencing that encounter in their message, the Pope with the other Christian leaders urged the African nation’s politicians to remember their commitments “to bring your country to a smooth implementation of the Peace Agreement.”
They also recalled their pledge to “visit South Sudan in due course, as things return to normalcy.”
“We have been glad to see the small progress you have made, but know it is not enough for your people to feel the full effect of peace,” they caution.
Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby, and Reverend Fair repeated their desire to visit the country in order “to bear witness to a changed nation, governed by leaders who… ‘hold hands, united… as simple citizens’ to ‘become Fathers (and Mothers) of the Nation.’
” They concluded their Christmas greetings praying that South Sudan’s political leaders might “know greater trust among yourselves and a greater generosity of service to your people.”
“We pray you know the peace that surpasses understanding in your own hearts and in the heart of your great nation.”
South Sudan fell into civil war not long after it gained independence from Sudan, which came in July 2011.
The conflict raged from 2013 until September 2018, and pitted the forces of President Salva Kiir—an ethnic Dinka—against those of his Vice President, Riek Machar—an ethnic Nuer.
Over 400,000 people died in the civil war, another 250,000 fled their homes, and around half of the population of 11 million were left in dire poverty.
In September 2018, the peace process was restarted with the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
However, the situation remains complicated. The UN’s head of mission, David Shearer, recently reported to the UN Security Council that the peace accord is not being implemented as it should.
He said violence still afflicts large portions of the nation.
General Motors Building Car Battery To Run 933km per charge
US based General Motors is currently working on cutting the cost of electric vehicle batteries, as well as their reliance on price-sensitive metals, such as cobalt, President Mark Reuss said during a recent investor conference.
GM is exploring new manufacturing processes, materials, and technologies, including silicon-rich and lithium metal anodes, solid state and high voltage electrolytes, and dry processing of electrodes for its next generation of Ultium batteries, according to Reuss.
“The supply chain is going to explode” as demand for cobalt, nickel, and other metals surges once GM and other automakers scale up EV production in the next five years, said Reuss.
GM is “looking for breakthroughs” in order to “reduce dependency on some of those metals”, he added.
GM is aiming to slash the cost of its battery cells to under $100 per kilowatt-hour by 2025, from over $150/kW currently.
It is also trying to increase the driving range of future EV batteries to 480 to 580 miles (933km)between charges so batteries last for a million miles or more, according to executives.
GM is scheduled to start production of Ultium battery cells in Lordstown, Ohio, in 2022 under a $2.3-billion joint venture with Korea’s LG Energy Solution.
The batteries, which will use graphite-based anodes, nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum (NCMA) cathodes and liquid electrolyte will be used in electric vehicles, such as the Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq.
GM and LG are also discussing the construction of a second EV battery plant in Tennessee, as part of the automaker’s push to produce 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2025.
Commenting on GM’s investment in and technology partnership with Massachusetts-based battery startup SES, Reuss said GM is “open to different partnerships and different technologies” as it works to slash battery costs and improve energy density to increase electric vehicle range.
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.
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.”
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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