Geun-hye leaves South Korea presidential palace

The former South Korean president was impeached on Friday.

Ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye has left the Blue House presidential palace two days after judges upheld parliament’s decision to impeach her.

Geun-hye arrived at her home in southern Seoul to a group of waving supporters chanting “Park-Geun-Hye – Pres-i-dent,” per NPR Asia correspondent Elise Hu.

A spokesperson for Geun-hye released the following statement from her:

The impeachment follows her involvement in a corruption scandal with close friend Choi Soon-sil. Geun-hye’s been accused of allowing Soon-sil to extort money from companies in return for political favors.

Supporters on both sides held rallies in Seoul Saturday.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, who’s loyal to Geun-hye, has been appointed as acting president.

According to the country’s election commission, a “free and fair” election will be held by May 9.

Democratic party candidate Moon Jae-in warned that Geun-hye “must not destroy or take the national records” outside the Blue House.

TechSummit Rewind 150

Companies oppose Trump immigration order, Uber hires Mark Moore to develop flying cars, & Google and Facebook’s program to help French newsrooms combat “fake news”

This is the TechSummit Rewind Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

97 companies file opposition to Trump immigration order

29doorclosed-1-master768

Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and other tech companies have filed an amicus brief voicing their opposition to President Trump’s immigration executive order on the grounds that it is discriminatory and has a negative impact on business.

The companies filed the brief in a case brought about by Minnesota and Washington state challenging the order. The Trump administration appealed the case to the 9th Circuit after a Seattle federal judge halted the immigration ban over the weekend.

Other notable participating companies include:

  • Airbnb
  • com
  • Apple
  • Asana
  • Atlassian
  • Autodesk
  • Automattic
  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Flipboard
  • GitHub
  • Google
  • GoPro
  • Indiegogo
  • Intel
  • Kickstarter
  • LinkedIn
  • Lyft
  • Medium
  • Mozilla
  • Netflix
  • Netgear
  • Patreon
  • PayPal
  • Pinterest
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Salesforce
  • Shutterstock
  • Snap
  • Spotify
  • Square
  • Squarespace
  • Strava
  • Stripe
  • SurveyMonkey
  • TaskRabbit
  • Thumbtack
  • Uber
  • Wikimedia Foundation
  • Y Combinator
  • Yelp
  • Zynga

The amicus brief highlights the contribution of immigrants to the tech industry while stressing the immigration controls already in place. The brief states that Trump’s immigration policies will make it more difficult and expensive for companies to hire new employees from around the world, and will make it more difficult for companies to conduct business because of travel restrictions on their employees. The companies also argue that the discrimination enshrined in the order will also trickle down to themselves – if job applicants can’t travel to the United States, employers might be forced to discriminate against them, according to the brief.

The Trump administration is also criticized for the order’s haphazard rollout, with the Department of Homeland Security and other enforcement agencies receiving little notice. The ultimate result, according to the companies, is that skilled workers will no longer seek employment in the United States.

“Skilled individuals will not want to immigrate to the country if they may be cut off without warning from their spouses, grandparents, relatives, and friends – they will not pull up roots, incur significant economic risk, and subject their family to considerable uncertainty to immigrate to the United States in the face of this instability.”

-The amicus brief

Notable absences include several companies that met with Trump before his inauguration: Amazon, Oracle, IBM, SpaceX, and Tesla. Oracle CEO Safra Catz is serving as an advisor to the Trump transition team, while SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended his decision to remain on Trump’s advisory council.

Amazon is listed as a witness in the Washington lawsuit brought against the ban, and according to a company spokesperson, Amazon was advised by the Washington Attorney General not to sign the amicus brief because of that status.

Uber hires Mark Moore to develop flying cars

Uber_NY_request-screenshot

Former NASA advanced aircraft engineer Mark Moore is joining Uber as its director of engineering for aviation, with the primary goal of working on the company’s Elevate flying car initiative.

“I can’t think of another company in a stronger position to be the leader for this new ecosystem and make the urban electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) market real.”

-Mark Moore, Uber director of engineering for aviation

Uber envisions that people will take conventional Ubers from their pickup point to a nearby “vertiport” that dots residential neighborhoods. Then they would zoom up into the air and across town to the vertiport closest to their offices. These air taxis will only need ranges between 50 and 100 miles, and Moore thinks that they can be at least partially recharged while passengers are boarding or exiting the aircraft. He also predicts that we’ll see several well-engineered flying cars in the next three years and human pilots for the foreseeable future.

However, many obstacles remain. According to Moore, each flying car company would need to independently negotiate with suppliers to get prices down, and lobby regulators to certify aircrafts and relax air-traffic restrictions.

Google, Facebook to help French newsrooms combat “fake news” ahead of election

Google and Facebook will help a host of French news organizations combat the growing tide of fake news ahead of the upcoming French presidential election campaign.

Through the CrossCheck program, Google has partnered with First Draft and Facebook to support a coalition of notable newsrooms including Le Monde, Agence Frence-Presse (AFP), France Televisions, BuzzFeed, Global Voices, and Les Echos, to help the French electorate “make sense of what and who to trust in their social media feeds, web searches, and general online news consumptions,” according to Google News Lab’s France lead David Dieudonne.

“With combined expertise form across media and technology, CrossCheck aims to ensure hoaxes, rumors and false claims are swiftly debunked, and misleading or confusing stories are accurately reported. With the French presidential election approaching, journalists from across France and beyond will work together to find and verify content circulating publicly online, whether it is photographs, videos, memes, comment threads, and news sites.”

-David Dieudonne, Google News Lab France lead

Vizio settles FTC lawsuit, agrees to get viewer consent before tracking TV habits

Vizio_logo_3

Vizio will pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it collected customers’ TV-watching habits without their permission.

The lawsuit was filed by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of New Jersey, alleging that Vizio began using software in 2014 built into over 11 million smart TVs to capture “highly-specific, second-by-second information about television viewing.” Vizio then allegedly worked with another company to associate demographic information with each household, so viewing habits could be paired with information like a viewer’s “sex, age, income, marital status” and more.

Vizio will now also have to obtain clear consent from viewers before collecting and sharing data on their viewing habits. It’ll also have to delete all data gathered by these methods before Mar. 1, 2016.

“The data generated when you watch television can reveal a lot about you and your household. So, before a company pulls up a chair next to you and starts taking careful notes on everything you watch (and then shares it with its partners), it should ask if that’s okay with you.”

-Kevin Moriarty, FTC attorney

Google makes it easier to see, share publishers’ real URLs from AMP pages

google-amp-update

Google is making a change to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), so users can easily view and share links that lead directly to publishers’ sites rather than Google’s copy of the content.

Now, the URL field of a browser will continue to show a Google URL. However, the AMP header area will display a link or chain icon that it calls the “anchor” button. Clicking on this will make the publisher’s direct URL appear, so that it can be easily copied and pasted.

For those who hold down on the anchor button, according to Google, it will trigger the native share feature of the browser being used. In Safari, this will give you easy access to things like Twitter or Facebook and well nothing for Chrome (since it lacks native share).

Next to the anchor button, the three dots that Google calls the “overflow” icon brings up help information about how AMP is displayed.

For those using Google’s iOS search app, native sharing is already enabled. According to Google, those searching through its app or natively on Android will get sharing features in the coming weeks.

South Korea to strengthen battery safety rules after Note 7 rules

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, lithium-ion battery safety requirements will be strengthened and inspected regularly to avoid repeats of fires caused by Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 batteries.

Manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries would be subjected to greater oversight and regular inspectors, according to a ministry statement. Devices using lithium-ion batteries will also be subjected to more regular safety tests.

“We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation.”

-Jeong Marn-ki; South Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy vice minister

The government will also specifically monitor Samsung’s efforts to improve battery safety, such as x-ray testing and stricter standards during the design process.

Recall-related requirements will also be strengthened by broadening the types of serious product defects that manufacturers should report to the government, and seek legal charges to allow the government to warn consumers to stop using certain products even if they hadn’t been recalled.

North Korea denies spy drones, labels South’s president a ‘prostitute’

North Korea accused U.S. and South Korean authorities on Monday of fabricating the results of a probe that concluded Pyongyang sent small surveillance drones, or unmanned aircraft, to spy on nkey South Korean installations in March.

A spokesman for the North’s military attacked the United States for what it said was a blindly backed confrontational conspiracy devised by the government of South Korean President Park Geun-bye, whom it called a “political prostitute.”

The unnamed spokesman in a statement from the KCNA news agency:

“If Washington pays heed only to what its stooges trumpet, it is bound to be accused of being a senile grandfather to trying to stop a child from crying.”

In a rare direct attack on the Norht Korean regime, South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesman Kim Min-seok said the North’s statement was “deeply regrettable” and that Pyongyang regularly lies so deserves to be discredited.

Kim at a briefing in Seoul:

“North Koea isn’t a real country, is it? It doesn’t have human rights or freedom. It exists solely to proup up a single person.

It is an unreal country that constantly lies and uses historically backward-looking rhetoric. That’s why it should cease to exist.”

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-54 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty

The North Korean statement was the latest in a recent series of written attacks against the South Korean president, whom it has previously compared to a “comfort woman.”

In April, North Korea described U.S. President Barack Obama as P

U.S. and South Korea to hold military drills despite protest from Pyongyang

SEOUL — The United States and South Korea will hold their annual joint military drills from February 24 to April 18, the combined forces command that oversees the allies announced on Monday, and Pyongyang has been notified of the plan.

The announcement comes after a nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bomber sortie last week prompted angry reactions from North Korea, which threatened to reconsider plans for reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The command:

“The United Nations Command has informed the Korean People’s army in North Korea through their Panmunjom mission about both Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercise dates and the non-provocative nature of this training.”

North Korea has rescinded a recent invitation to U.S. special envoy Robert King to discuss the release of imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bae for the second time after it withdrew Kin’s planned trip in August.

It was not clear whether the latest withdrawal of the invitation was the result of the decision by the United States and South Korea to go ahead with the drills.

North Korea has called for the cancellation of the drills, describing them as a prelude to war and warning the exercise to war and warning the exercise could imperil the family reunion plan.

Last year, North Korea threatened nuclear attacks against the United States and its allies at the height of tensions coinciding with the U.S> and South Korean drills.

Source: Reuters

China media slams Japan PM for paying homage to “devils”

BEIJING — Chinese newspapers blasted Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday., describing his visit to Yasukuni Shrine as “paying homage to devils” and warning that China has the ability to crush “provocative militarism”.

Abe visited Yasukuni on Thursday, a shrine where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honored along with those in died in battle. The move has infuriated China and South Korea, both of which were occupied by Japanese forces until the end of the war, and prompted concern from the United States about deteriorating ties between the North Asian neighbors.

In an editorial headlined “Abe’s paying homage to the devils makes people outraged,” the military’s People Liberation Army Daily said Abe’s actions have “seriously undermined the stability of the region”.

People Liberation Army Daily:

“On one hand, Abe is paying homage to war criminals, and on the other hand, he talks about improving relations with China, South Korea and other countries. It is simply a sham, a mouthful of lies.

Today, the Chinese people have the ability to defend peace and they have a greater ability to stop all provocative militarism.”

In a separate commentary published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” or “voice of China,” the Communist Party’s People Daily:

“History tells us that if people do not correctly understand the evils of the fascist war, cannot reflect on war crimes, a country can never (achieve) true rejuvenation.”

The Global Times, an influential nationalistic tabloid owned by the People’s Daily, urged China to shut its door to Age and other Japanese officials who have visited the shrine this year.

The Global Times:

“If condemnations are China’s only recourse, then the nation is giving up its international political rights easily. Ineffective countermeasures will make China be seen as a ‘paper tiger’ in the eyes of the rest of the world.

In the eyes of China, Abe, behaving like a political villain, is much like the terrorists and fascists on the commonly seen blacklists.”

A survey on China’s Twitter-esque Sina Weibo microblogging site on Thursday showed that almost 70 percent of respondents would support a boycott of Japanese goods, with many users expressing outrage at the shrine visit. The survey was later removed.

However, the topic was not one of the most talked about on the service, with people being more distracted by the latest celebrity gossip and the upcoming new year.

Source: Reuters

North Korea says Kim’s uncle dismissed for ‘criminal acts’

SEOUL — On Monday, North Korea announced that the dismissal of Jang Song Thaek, the once powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong Un, for what it described as a string of criminal acts including corruption, womanising and drug-taking.

South Korea’s spy agency last week said it believed Jang, long regarded as the second most powerful man in the secretive state, had been relieved of his hosts in November.

The sacking means Pyongyang is undergoing its biggest leadership upheaval since the 2011 death of former leader Kim Jong Il, the younger Kim’s father.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency in a report:

“Jang and his followers committed criminal acts baffling imagination and they did tremendous harm to our party and revolution.”

The meeting decided to dismiss Jang from all his posts and expel him from the Workers’ Party, according to KCNA. Kim Jong Un attended and “guided” the building.

KCNA listed a series of acts committed by Jang that it said led to the decision to remove him, including mismanagement of the country’s financial system, corruption, womanising and abusing alcohol and drugs.

KCNA:

“Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts (such) as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scene.

Affected by the capitalist way of living, Jang committed irregularaties and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life.”

Jang is married to Kim’s aunt, the daughter of the North’s founding father Kim Il Sung, and was widely considered to be working to ensure his nephew firmly established his grip on power in the past two years.

Source: Reuters

Twitter brings its Alerts service for emergency communications to the UK and Ireland

In September, Twitter launched Twitter Alerts in the US, Japan and South Korea, a feature that gives users important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters, or moments when other communication methods aren’t accessible.

Today, it announced that Twitter Alerts has landed in the UK and Ireland. As of now, 57 accounts have signed up for Twitter Alerts, including the UK’s 47 police forces, the London Fire Brigade, and the Mayor of London’s office.

One of these organizations can now mark any of their tweets as alerts. They will be highlighted with an orange bell, becoming more visible to their followers.

In Twitter’s blog post, Commander David Martin, who is in charge of emergency planning for the Metropolitan Police Service, notes that getting accurate information to the public speedily in something like a terrorist attack could really “make a life-saving difference.”

Commander Martin:

“Using social networking sites, including Twitter, gives us additional ways to talk directly to the public. Twitter Alerts means that our messages will stand out when it most matters.”

Twitter users also get an option to sign up for Twitter Alerts. First, you have to sign up to receive Twitter Alerts from a given account (so that your only receive information that’s relevant to you). One you do, you will receive a notification directly to your phone whenever that account marks a tweet as an alert.

Twitter Alerts builds on the company’s launch of Lifeline just over a year ago, a service that helps Japanese users follow local accounts that are important in crises.

As many organizations already use Twitter to disseminate information during crises, Twitter Alerts is a feature that can only boost the service’s usage — a metric that will be important for investors considering its newly-minted status as a public company, after the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Source: The Next Web

Putin mulls gas pipeline to South Korea through North Korea

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said the best option for a pipeline to deliver natural gas from Russia to South Korea is a land route through North Korea.

His comments in a Tuesday interview with the Korean Broadcasting System:

“It is much cheaper and safer, of course, to construct a land pipeline, political problems put aside. Should this [pipeline] be realized, [the overland route] would certainly be the optimal solution.”

Russian natural gas company Gazprom backed away from an option to build a pipeline through the ocean in 2012, the Platts energy news service reported Tuesday. Putin, in his interview, said it was too expensive to build that type of pipeline because of the depth of the region’s waters.

Putin said he wasn’t trying to interfere directly in lingering tensions on the Korean Peninsula but if both sides can agree on the terms of a pipeline, it “could be carried through rather quickly.”

Putin is scheduled for a state visit to Seoul later this week.

Russian energy companies are focusing some of their efforts on meeting growing Asian demands for oil and natural gas. Putin said those companies are already working in liquified natural gas projects in the Far East to help meet Asian demands.

Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultant group, said in a September report Japan and South Korea combine to make up more than 50 percent of the global demand for LNG.

GM seeks to gain near complete control of South Korea unit

SEOUL- General Motors Co is looking to gain close to complete control of its South Korean unit by buying a 17 percent stake held by the unit’s second biggest shareholder, a move that has renewed concerns it could be paving the way for restructuring steps.

GM owns close to 77 percent of GM Korea but Korea Development Bank’s 17 percent holding gives the state-run bank the right to veto decisions made by the automaker.

A GM Korea spokeswoman declined to comment.

Tim Lee, head of international operations at GM took a majority stake in failed Daewoo Motor in 2002, is South Korea’s third largest carmaker after Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors. The remaining 6 percent stake is held by China’s SAIC Motor Corp.

South Korea is a small market for GM, but one of the U.S. carmaker’s key production bases, exporting Chevrolet-branded cars to Europe and other countries and accounting for about a quarter of GM’s Chevy production globally.

Local media have voiced concern that a deal could give GM a free hand if it carries out restructuring at its South Korean plants.

Reuters reported in January that GM could transfer some Chevrolet production from South Korea to Opel in Europe in a bid to salvage its struggling European unit although a top official said in May that it did not have such plans.

The U.S. automaker has also moved to increase control at other Asian units. It said last week that it brought back most of the 50 percent stake in its Indian operations that it had sold to SAIC Motor Corp, regaining control of the venture.

[Source: Reuters]