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Warrior without honour

Warrior without honour Ghost Of Tsushima is the samurai game we’ve all been waiting for There’s no scarcity of hack-and-slash games around nor are stealth games lacking in the current video game landscape. The way these games work are formulaic, from the likes of button-mashing games like God Of War or something like the current iterations of Assassin’s Creed that have reworked the combat system but still had that iconic stealth gameplay. Ghost Of Tsushima definitely borrows and relies on these formulas, but the result isn’t another generic sword-fighting, open-world, sneak-around game. Instead, what we get is quite possibly the first Akira Kurosawa-like video game we’ve all been waiting for. THE PLOT Jin Sakai is a samurai on the island of Tsushima, which has been invaded by Mongols led by Khotun Khan. He accompanies his uncle, Lord Shimura, to face the invading army, but the Mongols easily wipe out the samurai. Jin is rescued by a thief, Yuna, who asks him for help to rescue her brother. Along the way, Jin realises that he will need to raise up a rebellion to successfully drive the Mongols from his home. However, to do

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China's Mars probe photographs Earth en route to Red Planet

A view of the Earth and Moon taken by China’s Tianwen-1 Mars probe from a distance of 1.2 million kilometers BEIJING: China’s first Mars probe has beamed back a photo of the Earth and the Moon as it heads toward its destination, the country’s space agency said Tuesday. The image, which shows the two celestial bodies as small crescents in the empty darkness of space, was taken 1.2 million kilometres (746,000 miles) away from Earth three days after the Tianwen-1 mission was launched on Thursday, the China National Space Administration said. China joined the United States and United Arab Emirates this month in launching a mission to Mars, taking advantage of a period when Mars and Earth are favourably aligned. The mission, given a name that means “Questions to Heaven,” aims to enter Martian orbit seven months after the launch and release a small rover to study the planet’s surface. It’s the latest milestone in Beijing’s

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Marketers Experiment With TV Ads in Console Videogames

A TV ad from Experian runs within Electronic Arts’ ‘UFC 3’ game. (BAXTER BREW) Marketers are putting TV ads in videogames played on consoles, an experiment in trying to reach younger audiences who are watching ever less traditional TV. In May, for instance, the Turner unit of AT&T’s WarnerMedia ran three ad tests within “UFC 3,” a fighting game from Electronic Arts Inc. The ads promoted Turner properties: its animated series “Rick & Morty,” the sci-fi show “Snowpiercer” and “The Match,” a celebrity golf tournament played by Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Experian PLC, the credit-reporting company, this month started a test within “UFC 3” for its Experian Boost product, which aims to help people increase their credit score. The test ad features celebrity spokesman John Cena. Traditional TV is Experian’s biggest marketing channel by spending, said Steve Hartmann, vice president of integrated marketing at Experian Consumer Services. But especially with the loss of live sports for much of the coronavirus pandemic, it has become harder to

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US Congress to question heads of tech giants on Wednesday

This file photo shows the logos of the four giant tech firms whose heads will testify before the US Congress on July 29, 2020, amid rising pushback against their market dominance WASHINGTON – A highly anticipated congressional hearing on anti-competitive practices, bringing together the heads of four US technology giants, has been rescheduled for noon (1600 GMT) Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee has announced. The heads of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — the world’s biggest technology companies — will be testifying at a time of growing complaints about their dominance and amid calls by some politicians and activists to break them up. The hearing, originally set for Monday, was rescheduled. The committee did not offer a reason, but civil rights icon and long-time congressman John Lewis will be lying in state in the

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US accuses Russia of firing anti-satellite weapon in space

US Space Command said the threat against its systems was “increasing”.
WASHINGTON: The United States accused Russia on Thursday of test-firing an anti-satellite weapon in space, warning that the threat against Washington’s systems was “real, serious and increasing.”
US Space Command “has evidence” that Moscow “conducted a non-destructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon” on July 15, it said in a statement.
“Last week’s test is another example that the threats to US and Allied space systems are real, serious and increasing,” the statement continued.
“Clearly this is unacceptable,” tweeted US nuclear disarmament negotiator Marshall Billingslea, adding that it would be a “major issue” discussed next week in Vienna, where he is in talks on a successor to the New START treaty.
The treaty caps the nuclear warheads of the US and Russia — the two Cold War-era superpowers.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he hopes to avoid an “expensive” arms race with Russia and China.
The system used to conduct last week’s test is the same one that Space Command raised concerns about earlier this year, when it maneuvered near a US government satellite, said General Jay Raymond, head of US Space Command.
“This is further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems, and consistent with the Kremlin’s published military doctrine to employ weapons that hold US and allied space assets at risk,” Raymond said in a statement.
It is the latest example of Russian satellites behaving in a manner “inconsistent with their stated mission,” the Space Command statement added.
“This event highlights Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control,” said Christopher Ford, a US assistant secretary of state for arms control.
The statement also came as China launched a rover to Mars on Thursday, a journey coinciding with a similar US mission as the powers take their rivalry into deep space.

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FACTBOX: Missions to Mars

People watch a big screen displaying the launch of the Hope Probe from Tanegashima Island in Japan, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on July 20. (Photo: Reuters)
Current international missions to Mars:
China is scheduled to launch an unmanned probe to Mars on Thursday, aiming to demonstrate its technological prowess with its first independent mission to visit another planet.
– China’s unmanned Mars probe, named Tianwen-1 after “Tianwen”, or “Questions to Heaven”, comprises an orbiter, lander and rover to be delivered by the powerful Long March 5 rocket. If successful, it will make China the first country to orbit, land and deploy a rover in its inaugural mission.
– The Long March 5’s journey through space will take about seven months, while landing will take seven minutes. China’s probe will carry several scientific instruments to observe the planet’s atmosphere and surface, searching for signs of water and ice.
– In 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States. In 2011, a joint Mars mission with Russia failed when the Russian spacecraft carrying the probe failed to exit the Earth’s orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean.
– Six spacecraft are currently orbiting Mars – three American, two European and one Indian. NASA has two operational spacecraft on the surface.
– The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars, the Hope Probe, from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on July 20. The first Arab mission to the Red Planet, it is due to arrive there in seven months and head into orbit to gather atmospheric data.
– Nasa has already sent 4 Martian rovers to the Red Planet, having learned crucial lessons from the Curiosity rover that landed on the planet’s surface in 2012 and continues to traverse a Martian plain southeast of 250-metre-deep Jezero Crater, once thought to have been a lake the size of Lake Tahoe.
– Nasa’s InSight spacecraft, the first robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of a distant world, touched down safely on the surface of Mars in November 2018 with instruments to detect planetary seismic rumblings never measured anywhere but Earth.
– Nasa is planning the launch of a fifth rover, named Perseverance, this year. Four-wheeled and car-sized, the robotic rover will scour the base of Mars’ Jezero Crater, once the craft lands in February 2021. The mission will carry equipment that can turn carbon dioxide, which is pervasive on Mars, into oxygen for breathing and for use as a propellant.
– The Soviet Union is the only other country to successfully land a rover on Mars. In 2016, a European space probe was destroyed on impact when it attempted a surface landing. Attempts by China and Japan to send orbiters around Mars were unsuccessful. Another launch initially planned for this year, the EU-Russian ExoMars, was postponed for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tech
DGTI seeks to bolster digital state

DGTI seeks to bolster digital state
New campus to foster innovation

Mr Supot says the facility supports the development of digital innovation.
The Digital Government Technology & Innovation Center (DGTI) was launched at Kasetsart University’s Si Racha campus in Chon Buri on Wednesday to draw in potential digital innovation developers who can explore ways to boost digital government services.
It was formed under a collaboration between the Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) and Kasetsart University.
The move is part of the government’s digital transformation roadmap, which underscores research, innovation, the reskilling of government officials and open data that could be leveraged by startups to develop innovation catering to the government services.
Chairing the launch, former Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said the creation of an innovative ecosystem of digital tech for the government is necessary and important.
The facility provides an opportunity for digital entrepreneurs to work and innovate, which ultimately strengthens the economy, he said.
Mr Pichet said DGTI would also serve as a main channel for matching digital innovations and government agencies exploring new technologies that would enhance their administration and services.
DGA chief executive Supot Tiarawut said the facility supports the development of digital innovation in a systematic manner and serves as a venue for R&D for digital technology, which could potentially pull in universities, startups and interested people to create ideas that would enhance the government’s administration and services.
The facility’s work is projected to bear fruit by the end of fiscal 2020, particularly innovation in the state sector associated with the Eastern Economic Corridor scheme.
The government aims to transform itself to become a digital government between 2021 and 2022.
“The DGA has a mission to create digital services for the public through effective digital channels,” said Mr Supot.
“State data must be integrated under a secure system with good governance.”
The DGTI is meant to help forge a digital government and facilitate knowledge exchange.
The centre offers four key functions.
First, it would serve as a hub for testing of digital services to be adopted by the government and translating innovative solutions into action.
Second, it would cater to knowledge exchange for the implementation of innovation.
Third, the facility is meant to help upgrade the digital skills of government personnel to boost digital government operations.
Lastly, the centre aims to come up with solutions to address hurdles faced by the government sector.
Mr Supot said the DGTI wants to create digital innovation usage worth 10 billion baht in three years.

Tech
GCNT highlights sustainability

Mr Suphachai reinforced the private sector’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals at the virtual annual general meeting.
Global Compact Network Thailand (GCNT) and its 54 members representing Thai companies have announced new strategies to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the business sector over the next decade.
At a recent virtual annual general meeting, the companies and GCNT reinforced their commitment to support the private sector in doing business using responsible corporate practices, creating awareness and capabilities to integrate SDGs into business strategies, taking concrete action to produce tangible results and proposing new strategies through national implementation.
Suphachai Chearavanont, chief executive of Charoen Pokphand Group and chairman of GCNT, said the network’s goals are to help the private sector understand the concept of sustainable development and the importance of responsible business practices.
In this regard, members have delivered on their commitment to integrating the SDGs into business strategies within the Thai context. This action brings significant changes and upgrades corporate governance standards in business operations, he said.
GCNT focuses on four core principles: human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
The business sector has learned to adapt and explore alternate means of doing business during the pandemic. Someday the coronavirus crisis will end, but sustainability will remain an essential issue for all, said Mr Suphachai.
The group has adopted five strategies, including raising awareness of the Thailand Sustainability Index, adopting market mechanisms to drive sustainability through public-private partnerships, building new leaders in line with sustainability initiatives, recognising workers as part of the SDGs and applying new technology to solve SDGs.
“I am proud to be part of this sustainable journey, which still faces challenges, but we can inspire each other,” he said. “I hope GCNT can persuade and create new partners to follow the same path of global sustainability.”

Tech
Twitter takes down QAnon conspiracy theorist accounts

Believers of QAnon conspiracy theories have been seen at President Donald Trump’s rallies.
SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter has removed more than 7,000 accounts linked to the “QAnon” movement over abuse and harassment concerns, saying Tuesday it will limit the spread of conspiracy theories by its supporters.
Members of the informal, pro-Donald Trump group believe — with no credible evidence — that the United States has been ruled for decades by a criminal organisation involving people they describe as the Satan-worshipping global elite, including Hollywood stars and the “deep state”.
The right-wing group is also convinced of a secret plot against Trump, and its members have targeted his political opponents on social media with harassment.
“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behaviour that has the potential to lead to offline harm,” Twitter said.
“In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called ‘QAnon’ activity across the service,” it added.
“We will permanently suspend accounts Tweeting about these topics that we know are engaged in violations of our multi-account policy, coordinating abuse around individual victims, or are attempting to evade a previous suspension.”
A spokesperson said that the social media giant had decided to act because QAnon followers were causing increasing harm.
The FBI has identified QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat, according to US media.
QAnon members have recently been involved in protests against measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, especially lockdowns and face masks
Twitter said it would help stop the spread of QAnon conspiracy theories by, among other things, making sure the Twitter algorithm does not highlight sites and tweets associated with their accounts.
It will also “block URLs associated with QAnon from being shared on Twitter.”
Some 150,000 accounts will also be hidden from trends and search on Twitter, a spokesperson said.
Supporters of the group claim that “Q” or “QAnon” is a mole in the president’s inner circle who has decided to reveal tidbits of intelligence concerning the global conspiracy on fringe internet platforms.
While it originated on the edges, QAnon has built a growing following on mainstream social media platforms too. Some QAnon adherents are even running for Congress this November.
Twitter’s decision comes after nearly 1,000 advertisers announced they were boycotting Facebook, demanding more aggressive action against content that promotes violence and hate.
In April, Facebook removed 20 accounts, five pages and six groups linked to QAnon.

Tech
TikTok gave rural Indian women fame, fun and more

Legions of women outside India’s big cities found fun, and some found fame, on Chinese app TikTok.
NEW DELHI: When India banned TikTok, it closed a window to the wider world for legions of women outside the big cities that provided fun, fame and even fortune.
The government outlawed the video-sharing platform, and 58 other Chinese apps, this month citing data security fears.
TikTok is also reportedly under greater scrutiny elsewhere including in the United States and Australia.
Married soon after she completed college, 27-year-old stay-at-home mother Mamta Verma lives in a small town in Madhya Pradesh state.
One day, her daughter got her to install TikTok on her phone to watch the dizzying array of zany videos uploaded from across what used to be the app’s biggest international market.
Instagram and YouTube are for “the big people”, Verma told AFP by phone, but TikTok she liked.
She started to record and upload videos of her own.
“I started with five likes on my first video. That was a big boost for me,” Verma said.
Soon, she had more than a million followers and was earning about 4,000 rupees ($50) per video with her slick robot dance routines shot inside her small, simple home.
“It’s not a lot but my earnings from TikTok helped in running the house and also in managing finances for the new house. You know even 10 rupees is a huge amount for us,” she said.
– Breaking a glass ceiling –
But it wasn’t just the money.
“Before TikTok, I didn’t have the confidence to talk to people. I would just do my work, and as a stay-at-home wife I never made eye contact with people or even spoke much,” Verma said.
Speaking a vast number of languages and dialects, around 70 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people live in rural areas, a world away from big cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi.
Amitabh Kumar from Social Media Matters, a group encouraging “social media for social change”, said that for many people in this huge hinterland, TikTok was a “glass ceiling breaker”.
“Instead of Bollywood and rich people, finally there was a chance for common people to create something in 15 seconds which makes you laugh or cry or think or engage,” he told AFP.
Its different tools were simple to use for those who don’t speak or read English or Hindi, and the app worked well on low-speed internet.
“Twitter cracked the short-form storytelling in text — with 140 and then 280 (characters). I think TikTok did it with 15 seconds,” he added.
And it reminded the urban elite of India’s vast diversity and chasmic differences in wealth.
“What we, people sitting in Delhi, probably judged and made fun of was high-class entertainment for a lot of people who never got a chance to express themselves,” he said.
“Here was for the first time a space that rural India was enjoying.”
– ‘Not a big person’ –
Another minor star was Rupali Manoj Bhandole, 29, a housewife and mother who left school at 14 living in a small town in Maharashtra state that gets piped water for an hour a day and endures frequent power cuts.
She would upload videos of herself poking fun at her weak economic status — and soon amassed 300,000 followers.
“A person who works with a Marathi TV show called me a star… I can’t tell you happy I felt,” she told AFP.
“I only studied until Class 9. I’m not a big person.”
Bhandole said she wept when TikTok was banned. 
Archana Arvind Dhormise hopes the benefits she derived from the platform will last.
The 35-year-old from Pimpalgaon in Maharashtra seldom left home for fear of censure from her conservative family and neighbours.
But then the home beautician became the “Rani Mukherji of TikTok” — a reference to a famous Bollywood actress — dancing and miming to famous songs, and gaining 75,000 fans.
She won a local competition for one of her TikTok videos. Now she has landed a part in a short film.
“I had never in my life gone up on stage and spoken or even initiated a conversation without having a million thoughts in my head,” Dhormise told AFP.
“But being on TikTok and seeing all the love I was getting gave me the confidence to keep that going, and also be confident in the real world.”

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